Fewer than 1 in 5 Canadian women have breast reconstruction after mastectomy

03 October 2017

Toronto -

An estimated 26,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada this year, making it the most common cancer in Canada. Of those, about 6,000 women have mastectomies every year. Yet surprisingly, fewer than 1 in 5 (16%) of women undergo breast reconstruction after mastectomy, which is less than half the number who do so in the US (38%).

“Although there are a variety of personal reasons why women don’t opt for reconstruction, lack of awareness and timely access to information is a significant problem, particularly for women living outside major city centres,” says Natalie Witkin of the Canadian Cancer Society.

To help address the issue, the Canadian Cancer Society is hosting 25 events across Canada during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The events, dubbed BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day, promote education, awareness and access to post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. BRA Day brings together breast cancer survivors, women currently facing breast cancer or those at high risk of developing breast cancer with leading breast reconstruction surgeons. The aim is to help empower women with knowledge and confidence about reconstruction options.

“Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are not typically part of the medical team handling the initial treatment plan, which is focused on treating the disease,” says Dr. Mitchell Brown, a plastic surgeon and the founder of BRA Day. “However, for many women breast reconstruction could be a vital step in the recovery and healing process.”

Show & Tell Lounge

One of the most popular aspects of the Canadian Cancer Society’s BRA Day is the Show & Tell Lounge*. This intimate and up-close experience allows women to see real-life reconstruction results as well as hear stories from women who have undergone breast reconstruction surgery.

“The Show & Tell lounge is such an amazing experience. You get the opportunity to meet women who have been through what you’re going through. It’s one thing talking about breast reconstruction with a doctor and looking at photos online, but it’s a magical experience seeing results in real life,” says Dana Kendal, a breast cancer survivor.

Dana was the mother of 2 young children when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Her treatment included a mastectomy on her right breast, 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation. She attended a BRA Day event and opted for breast reconstruction surgery.

“After reconstruction, I began to feel like myself again. When you get cancer, it can feel like the cancer takes control, but having breast reconstruction helped me feel like I could take that control back. It helped me take my body back,” says Dana Kendal.

Now in its 7th year, more than 30 countries host BRA Day events worldwide. For more information on where events are being held, please visit www.bra-day.com

*The Show and Tell Lounge is closed to media. Only women are permitted.

About breast cancer at the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is working to create a world where no Canadian fears cancer. As Canada’s leading cancer charity, we support high-quality breast cancer research, educate women about early detection, provide information and support to women and men living with breast cancer and their families and caregivers

CCS is the largest national charitable funder of breast cancer research in Canada. This year so far, we have dedicated $12 million to fund a wide range of research projects related to breast cancer.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, CCS has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340