The Canadian Source Of Employee Pension Fund Investment And Benefits Plan Management

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September 2007

Breast Cancer Comes To Work

By: Caroline Tapp-McDougall

Thanks to the Canadian Cancer Society and various fund-raising walks and events, many Canadians know that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. However, the risks are still very real. An estimated 22,300 women will be diagnosed with the disease this year. Of those women, 5,300 will die. To make these numbers even more realistic, consider that one in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Suddenly, it’s not someone else who’s at risk. It’s your mother, wife, daughter, or a co-worker.

What Is Breast Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer begins when cancer cells form a lump or mass, called a tumour, in breast tissue. Most breast abnormalities are not cancerous and do not spread. Some breast cancers are considered ‘in situ,’ meaning they have not spread beyond where they begin. Nearly all cancers at this stage can be cured. However, some breast tumours are invasive. They start in the breast lobules or ducts, but have broken through the duct or gland walls to invade the breast’s surrounding fatty tissue. The seriousness of this type depends on the extent that the cancer has spread when it is first diagnosed.

How Is It Treated?

Workplace education of breast cancer and its risks and detection is vital to improving employee health. As mentioned, early detection leads to early treatment and better outcomes. Depending on the type and stage of cancer, different treatment options are available to employees who have recently been diagnosed. These include surgery – the most common type of treatment – as well as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and monoclonal antibody therapy. The different treatment options have varying success rates.

As well, each treatment has side effects which impact each person differently. For example, an employee who has had radiation therapy may experience nausea, vomiting, or fatigue which can affect their onthe-job performance.

breast cancer comes to work

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