Breast Cancer “Standard of Care”: Standard for All?

Many women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States are not receiving what is considered to be "standard of care."When we look at the progress that has been made against breast cancer over the last twenty years, an essential measure is mortality, how many lives are actually being saved.

The big picture story is that mortality from breast cancer for the U.S. population as a whole has declined somewhat, but not nearly as much as might have been expected given the emphasis on screening over the last twenty years.

But looking deeper reveals an even more disturbing story. Continue reading

Breast Cancer “Awareness”: What is the Message?

How can we get to a more informed level of breast cancer awareness--the kind that will result in needed action to end deaths from the disease?Each year during the month of October we are more than ever bombarded with the pink ribbon. But what really is the purpose of all this “awareness” today–beyond selling pink-ribboned products?

Breast cancer screening through mammography has now become widespread, but misperceptions about the disease are also widespread.

How do we get to a more informed level of awareness–the kind of awareness that may better lead to the steps that need to be taken today to end deaths from this disease?

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Breast Cancer: Where Are We After Twenty Years?

How far have we come in the fight against breast cancer?It was in the early 1990’s that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It also happened to be around that time that breast cancer advocacy and awareness efforts were starting to gain momentum.

We hear a lot these days about advances in the understanding of cancer biology, and about new experimental therapies.

But I sometimes find myself wondering just how much has been accomplished since the early ’90s. This post takes a look back at how far we’ve actually come in the fight against breast cancer in the past twenty years.

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Recent Breast Cancer Screening Studies: What Are the Take-Home Messages?

Doctor examining a mammogram

Another major study on breast cancer screening was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This study follows a report two months ago on the results of a large clinical trial on mammography conducted in Canada.

A summary of the Canadian trial’s main findings and links to several commentaries about it are in my recent post on top cancer research stories.

The study reported last week in JAMA did not include any new trial findings or other new evidence. Instead, it was a thorough review of what we know about the benefits and harms of mammography from the many trials and other studies that have been conducted over the last 50 years and an effort to distill from all this information what the current state of knowledge is about mammography. Continue reading

Top Cancer Research Stories: Winter 2014

Laptop, newspaper and cappuccino

This is the latest post in a bi-monthly series looking at several of the most interesting cancer research stories that have come out over the previous two months. ¬†These are a few of the recent stories that seem to have the greatest potential impact, at least from my perspective, and that I know I’ll want to follow as they develop further.

Below are overviews of several top cancer research stories that came out in January and February 2014, including studies on mammography, risk reduction for carriers of BRCA gene mutations and radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer. Continue reading

Breast Cancer: Where Are We After Twenty Years?

on_the_roadI recently came across a copy of a letter I wrote back in 1994, about a year after my breast cancer diagnosis, to members of a congressional committee that was considering the budget for the following year. Here is part of what I had written:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1993 at age 35, although I was considered to be at low risk for getting the disease…I read with great interest that researchers are finding some promising new leads in their study of this and other types of cancer. Discovery of the causes of and cure for cancer may not be far way, but it all depends on our continued strong commitment to providing appropriate levels of funding for basic research.

The paragraph above still represents essentially where we are today, twenty years later. That is, we continue to hear about promising new leads yet we still know little about the causes of cancer and certainly don’t have a cure. Continue reading