What is “Step Therapy” and Why Should We Care?

What is step therapy and how is it affecting cancer patients?What in the world is “step therapy”? Maybe a new type of fitness routine? Unfortunately, it’s nothing of the kind. And this benign sounding term can sometimes mean bad news for cancer patients and others who need newer, but often more costly, medications that have been prescribed by their doctors.

This February, I joined a group of advocates for meetings at our state legislature here in Virginia. One of the major issues on our agenda was the need for reform of the practice of step therapy, which has increased significantly across the country in recent years with the rising prices of prescription drugs.  Continue reading

A New Year: Where Do We Go From Here?

A new year and improving health careOne of the things I enjoy about the holiday season is that it usually includes some down time to reflect a bit on the past year and opportunities the new year brings.

As we start this new year, I’m looking forward to (hopefully) a wonderful year ahead, but it’s hard not to also recognize that there are many uncertainties at play in the larger world today.

I’ve been thinking lately about some of the lessons I’ve learned going through difficult times in the past. One of those lessons was recognizing that even when our world seems to be veering off course, there are things we can control. And those are the small and large (mostly small) choices we make and actions we take every day that add up to the kind of year we have and the life we live.

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10 Things We Learned About Progress Against Cancer in 2015

A review of major developments in cancer research and breast cancer in 2015.Looking back over the past year, what were some of the big things we learned that contribute to the progress that’s being made against cancer?

Here are ten of the stories that stood out most for me. Some involved new treatments or evolving treatment approaches. Others were about important policy issues, including the high costs of cancer care, and the pressing need for solutions. And again this year we were reminded of the importance of accuracy when it comes to reporting about celebrity cancer stories. Continue reading

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2014: Where Is Research Headed?

The 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium highlighted potential new treatment strategies that are opening up as a result of advances in understanding of cancer biology.Innovative new approaches to breast cancer treatment that were featured at the 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium could eventually have a big impact on the way breast cancer is treated.

Potential new treatment strategies are opening up as a result of recent advances in knowledge of cancer biology as well as improved understanding of how our immune system functions.  Technological advances are playing a big role too. 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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Why Do New Cancer Drugs Cost So Much?

Portrait of an unhappy person sitting on a bench at sunsetCovering the financial costs of care is an increasing problem for cancer patients, and especially for those receiving some of the newer medications which are often extremely highly priced.

More patients are finding that they have to struggle with how they’re going to pay for their medications at the same time as they’re dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of going through treatment. Some are even forced to declare bankruptcy.

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