Understanding Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a type of cancer where cells in the breast tissue divide and grow without normal control. It is a widespread and random disease, striking women and men of all ages and races. It is the most prevalent cancer in the world today, with about 1.3 million people diagnosed annually. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, currently, there is no cure.
But there is hope. Thanks to heightened awareness, early detection through screening, improved treatment methods and increased access to breast health services, people have a greater chance of survival than ever before.
BAHAMAS BREAST CANCER DATA
- Health officials estimate 300-500 new cases each year.
- 48% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in The Bahamas were under the age of 50.
- The average age of diagnosis in The Bahamas is 42. In the United States it is 62.
- 44% of Bahamian women with breast cancer had Stage 3 or Stage 4 of this disease.
- What this means is that Bahamian wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends are finding out about their cancer later and dying younger.
Among the women who die from breast cancer in The Bahamas 43% are under 50-years-old at the time of their death.
In addition, it is estimated that a full 23% of Bahamian women diagnosed with breast cancer carry the BRCA1 gene mutation – an issue being investigated by Dr. Judith Hurley of the University of Miami, whose research Komen has funded since 2008.
THE IMPACT OF GENETIC RESEARCH ON BREAST CANCER IN THE BAHAMAS: DR. JOHN LUNN
Generic research has shown that Bahamian women with breast cancer have the highest prevalence of an inherited gene in the BRAC gene in the world. In fact, more than 25% of Bahamian women with breast cancer have this inherited pre-disposition. Carriers of this mutation can now plan preventative strategies. More and more young women are now coming forward for prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. They are also aware that if they have their ovaries removed (at age 35) it will give them a 70% protection against breast cancer and eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer which is also associated with this generic abnormality.
- Research is now attempting to establish the frequency of this abnormal gene in the unaffected population, so that rational scientific preventative strategies can be planned for the whole population.
- Government is being diligent in creating policies that ensure the health of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
- Women who have the mutation have up to an 85% chance of developing breast cancer.Bahamian women have three different genes of breast cancer.
Marathon Bahamas is honoured to support organizations in the Bahamian community which are dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in The Bahamas. The Cancer Society of The Bahamas which has been working in our community for 35 years; the Sister Sister Support Group founded by local oncologists who saw the need for the countless when diagnosed with breast cancer had a support system; and the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation which is dedicated to raising funds to help fund our public hospital here in Nassau. Together, the community’s support of these organizations will help to change the status quo.
KOMEN RESEARCH RESOURCES
The Susan G. Komen national website, komen.org, offers comprehensive information about breast cancer risk factors, early detection and screening, diagnosis, treatment and support. Developed in conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health, the online Understanding Breast Cancer offers a one-stop resource for all the latest information on the disease.