Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sen. Sherrod Brown to Speak About Health Care Jan 2

Senator Sherrod Brown will speak at a  Press Conference on the new benefits for Seniors included as provisions in the Affordable Health Care Act.
Senator Sherrod Brown
Sunday, January 2, 2011
3:00 P.M.
MetroHealth Senior Health and Wellness Center
(formerly Deaconness Hospital)
4229 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109
Any senior who will be directly impacted by the availability of preventative screening should come prepared to tell their story.

Friday, November 5, 2010

State Pre-Existing Insurance Plans Improving

The Dept. of Health & Human Services announced improvements today in the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program.  This program, part of the sweeping health care reform law enacted this year, provides states with funds to establish low cost insurance pools for people who can't get affordable insurance due to pre-existing health conditions.  This program provides relief for breast cancer survivors who can't get insurance because of a previous or current diagnosis.

To improve the plan and make it more affordable for consumers, the Obama Administration has directed a 20% cut in these insurance premiums, plus improved plans that lower out of pocket costs.

The latest news can be found at the link below:


More information about this plan is available here:


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hormone replacement therapy increased deaths in WHI study: National Breast Cancer Coalition

New data from the Women's Health Initiative Study on post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy shows HRT not only increases breast cancer incidence in post-menopausal women, it also increases the rate of aggressive forms of breast cancer as well as increased deaths. It's more evidence that women should avoid hormone replacement therapy to treat symptoms of menopause. Read more at the link below.

Hormone replacement therapy increased deaths in WHI study: National Breast Cancer Coalition

Friday, October 15, 2010

Iniparib Extends Overall Survival In Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Final results of a randomized Phase II trial have been announced for the new parp-inhibitor drug Iniparib.  Results are somewhat encouraging.  The trial enrolled triple-negative breast cancer patients with metastatic disease, assigning them to receive iniparib plus chemotherapy (gemcitabine/carboplatin) or chemotherapy alone.

Triple-negative breast cancer is a type of cancer with tumors that aren't receptive to estrogen and progesterone and test negative for the Her 2 oncogene.  Patients with triple-negative breast cancer usually have a poorer prognosis and shorter survival. About 15% of all breast cancer cases are triple negative.

Of the patients who received  Iniparib + chemo, 55.7% experienced complete or partial response over 6 months compared to 33.9% of patients who received chemo alone. 

The results are encouraging, offering the possibility of a new treatment for metastatic triple negative breast cancer patients.  Treatment options for this group of women is currently limited. 

Read more

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jewels In Our Genes - Study for African American Breast Cancer Survivors

Just received the following email from the Army of Women, part of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Sounds like an important study to understand breast cancer risk in AA women.

As you may know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the perfect month for the Army of Women members to shine! Some of you may be thinking, "What can I do to help? How can I make a difference?" Well, the Army of Women has the answers for you! To start, read on to learn about an exciting breast cancer research study that needs African-American breast cancer survivors AND their female relatives with a history of breast cancer, from ANYWHERE in the US. If you are a breast cancer survivor, see how you can participate. If you are NOT a breast cancer survivor, but have relatives who are, take action and invite them to join the Army of Women and let them know about this study today! The researchers need them–and possibly you, too! Together you may be able to take part in important research investigating the higher rates of breast cancer in young African-American women. Read on to learn how.

If you aren't able to participate in this study, you can still do YOUR part: forward the Call to Action to someone you know who might be interested. As a member of the Army of Women you have an important opportunity to accelerate breast cancer research by forwarding our e-blast and helping to fill this study. And that's not all! YOU can make a difference by inviting your friends, family, colleagues–ANYONE you know over the age of 18–to join the Army of Women. Together, we can reach our goal of ONE MILLION strong!

Women of African ancestry living in the United States have higher rates of premenopausal breast cancer than women of European ancestry. They are also more likely to die of breast cancer. Is it possible that there are certain hereditary genetic mutations that may explain why? A research team at the University at Buffalo thinks the answer is yes. And they need African-American women who were diagnosed with breast cancer of any stage, including metastatic disease and DCIS, to help them find out.

This study is open to African-American breast cancer survivors in the United States who have at least one living blood relative (mother, sibling, cousin, grandparent, niece, etc) who is also a breast cancer survivor. There is no time limit since diagnosis and it is OK if you are currently receiving treatment. If you are interested in learning more, please read on!

What's the study about?

The research team is searching for new genetic risk factors for breast cancer in African-American women by studying DNA from women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, their female relatives who have had breast cancer, and possibly also their female relatives who have not had breast cancer. They are also going to investigate whether there are similarities in tumor type that develop within the families that take part in the study.

What's involved?

If you agree to participate in the Jewels in Our Genes study you will be contacted by phone to answer questions about your breast cancer diagnosis and your relatives who are also breast cancer survivors. If you appear to be eligible and you decide to join the study, you will be asked to provide a small sample of saliva so that the researchers can collect your DNA. This involves spitting into a tube. The researchers will mail you a saliva collection kit, which will include detailed instructions on how to collect the sample and return it to the researchers. You will mail the kit back to the researchers, at no cost to you.

You will also be asked to complete a short questionnaire about your health, lifestyle, and family history of breast cancer. The questionnaire will be mailed to you and you will mail it back to the researchers, at no cost to you. You will also be asked to give the research team permission to access your medical records, which will be used to confirm the type of breast cancer you had.

Finally, you will be asked to help recruit your relatives who are breast cancer survivors into the study, and also possibly one relative who has not been diagnosed with breast cancer. Based on the information you provide in the questionnaire, the research team will decide which of your relatives you should invite to join the study. You will receive a letter in the mail asking you to provide these family members with a copy of the study brochure and to ask them to call the research team if they would like to participate.

The researchers need to enroll up to 150 families, or approximately 400 women, in this study.

Who is conducting the study?

Heather Ochs-Balcom, PhD, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY


Anywhere in the United States, all necessary participation is handled through the mail.

Who can participate?

You can join the Jewels in Our Genes study if you match ALL of these MAIN categories:

• You are a woman older than 18 years of age

• You consider yourself to be Black/African American

• You were diagnosed with breast cancer of any stage, including metastatic disease and DCIS. There is no time limit since diagnosis and it is OK if you are currently receiving treatment.

• You have tested negative for the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations (if known - if you do not know your status, you can still participate in the study)

• You have at least one living female blood relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer of any stage, including metastatic disease and DCIS. The relative can be first degree (mother, daughter, sister) or second degree (cousin, grandparent, aunt, or niece). There is no time limit since diagnosis and it is OK if she is currently receiving treatment.

• You live in the United States

After you RSVP, the researcher will ask you additional questions to be sure that this study is a right fit for you.

Link to RSVP

Friday, October 1, 2010

AACR Cancer Health Disparities Meeting This Week

Apologies for the late notice, but the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) is hosting a meeting this week (through Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010) titled "The Science of Cancer Health Disparities".

They'll be addressing a wide variety of topics relating to disparities in research, screening, treatment and many other important topics.

This conference will address all levels of basic, population, clinical and multidisciplinary research related to cancer. The goals of this conference are to bring together physicians, scientists, health professionals and health care leaders working in a variety of disciplines to discuss the latest findings in their fields, to foster collaborative interdisciplinary interactions and partnerships and to stimulate the development of new research in cancer health disparities.

The best part is that you don't have to attend in person. Follow the link below to review the program highlights and download podcasts. You can listen to interviews and read research on your home computer.

Cancer Health Disparities

Friday, September 3, 2010

Socioeconomic status predicts survival of Canadian cancer patients

A recent Canadian study reveals that cancer survival rates are less related to stage of disease at diagnosis. Instead, in a country with universal health care, disparities in survival rates between patients may be related to access to care and quality of cancer care.

..."researchers found that despite universal healthcare, significant differences in survival across socioeconomic groups persist in Ontario: overall and cancer-specific survival of patients from poorer communities was lower than that of patients residing in more affluent neighborhoods. "Contrary to what has been reported in studies from the U.S., we have found that stage of cancer at time of diagnosis does not account for any substantial component of the difference in survival across social groups," said Dr. Booth. Instead, factors such as differences in cancer biology, the presence of other illnesses, access to treatment, and quality of care might play a role."

Socioeconomic status predicts survival of Canadian cancer patients

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NBCC Advocates Appointed to Interagency Breast Cancer Research Committee

National Breast Cancer Coalition members are among advocates appointed to the new 19 member Interagency Breast Cancer & Environmental Research Committee. The committee has 6 breast cancer consumer advocates and will work to study efforts to coordinate interagency research programs looking into the effects of environment on breast cancer. Congratulations!

More info here:


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Breast Cancer: How Politics Is Driving Up Costs - Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Family Foundation weighs in on the side of the FDA on its recent decision to remove approval for use of Avastin in metastatic breast cancer. The drug received fast track approval a few years ago with no final data on its long-term effectiveness for treating breast cancer. Two recent studies have provided evidence that Avastin doesn't improve survival for patients. The cost of the drug averages $8,000 per month and has some negative side effects for patients, including vomiting, stomach pains and high blood pressure. Given the latest data, the FDA decision, made by a panel of experts not tied to the drug industry, is the right one.

Unfortunately, a group led by the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (Race for the Cure) have taken the opportunity to use the decision to criticize the FDA and reject the evidence from two high quality clinical trials. They've wrongly accused the FDA of making the decision for economic reasons and have attempted to politicize the situation. Komen and others have used the opportunity to criticize health care reform and attempts to control rising health care costs. Their pressure on legislators to overturn the decision is wrong.

NOBCCF has signed a letter with other breast cancer advocacy groups supporting the FDA's decision.

Below is a link to the Kaiser Foundation news article, its worth reading

Breast Cancer: How Politics Is Driving Up Costs - Kaiser Health News

Monday, August 16, 2010

FDA Considers Revoking Approval for Avastin for Metastatic Breast Cancer

According to this article in the Washington Post, the FDA is considering revocation of the drug Avastin for metastatic breast cancer. A recent study shows the drug, which costs $8,000 per month, offers no benefit to these patients.

More information

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Diabetes and Cancer Breakthrough

This is certainly interesting news, worth looking more closely at the study results.

Diabetes and Cancer Breakthrough

"Poor-quality carbohydrate consumption (junk food, soft drinks, sweets), physical and emotional stress, and xeno-oestrogen exposure (pesticides, HRT, and the pill), act synergistically to increase intra-cellular oestradiol, which encourages fat deposition and obesity; inhibits insulin receptors to cause metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes; promotes benign prostatic hypertrophy; and triggers the carcinogenic mechanisms that cause breast cancer and prostate cancer."

Updated to add link to journal abstract

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hospitals Criticized For Keeping Quiet On Charity Care - Kaiser Health News

Many hospitals today make it difficult for uninsured and under-insured patients to apply for charity care. The study highlighted in the article linked below shows a growing problem and the need for patients to have better information and access to the application process.

Most hospitals in Ohio participate in the Health Care Assurance Program (HCAP), which provides them with state and federal funds to cover costs of treating uninsured and under-insured patients. You can request and complete an HCAP Application and submit it to any of these participating hospitals. Contact NOBCCF if you have questions or need assistance at 440-717-9912.

Hospitals Criticized For Keeping Quiet On Charity Care - Kaiser Health News

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Dirty Dozen

Want a quick, handy reference to help you avoid dangerous pesticides when shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables? Environmental Working Group has developed a handy, one-page guide. The guide shows which fresh fruits and vegetables are less likely to have pesticide residue and which ones you should buy from the "organic" section of the produce department.

Link to EWG Guide (PDF)

Download and print a copy for your next shopping trip!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

IOM Report - US Cancer Clinical Trials Network Has Broken

The latest news from the Institute of Medicine is a report about the dysfunctional NCI Clinical Trials Cooperative Group in the US, a topic breast cancer activists have been discussing for a while.

Below is the text of IOM's press release

Overhaul of NCI Cooperative Group Program Needed to Ensure

It Can Continue to Conduct Important Cancer Clinical Research

WASHINGTON -- Because a robust national clinical trials network is essential to achieving advances in cancer treatment and prevention, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) should preserve and strengthen the capabilities of the Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program through an overhaul of its organization, management, and funding, says a new report of the Institute of Medicine. The program has been instrumental in establishing many therapies routinely used to treat cancer patients, said the committee that wrote the report. But it faces many difficulties at present that undermine its ability to facilitate the multi-institutional collaborations necessary to conduct large, late-stage trials that answer important research questions single institutions and the private sector cannot or do not tackle.

Inefficient processes for developing trials, complicated government oversight, and a lack of sufficient resources hinder the program's ability to efficiently and effectively design and conduct trials, the committee concluded. To reduce waste and streamline the program, the report calls for consolidating redundant administrative and support functions that are handled separately by each of the 10 cooperative research groups that comprise the program. It recommends strategies to more effectively incorporate scien­tific advances into clinical trials and a boost in funding and other incentives to encourage and support health professionals' participation in studies. And it urges public and private health plans to fully cover the nonexperimental costs of study participants' health care during trials to eliminate financial disincentives that lead patients to decline enrollment or to drop out.

"Cooperative group studies have steadily improved the care of cancer patients for more than 50 years, but the program is at a breaking point," said committee chair John Mendelsohn, president of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "Its effectiveness is being undermined at a time when the opportunity for improving cancer care has never been greater because of rapid advances in biomedical research. A few isolated or partial measures won't suffice. The program urgently needs changes across the board if it is going to continue producing the kind of studies necessary to answer crucial and fundamental questions about how to successfully treat and prevent cancer, which can't be answered through other means."

The Cooperative Group Program involves more than 3,100 institutions and 14,000 investigators who enroll more than 25,000 patients in clinical trials each year. Research by the cooperative groups has contributed to the introduction of treatments and drug indications that have led to improved survival for cancer patients.

Successful trials depend on sufficient involvement by physicians and other health professionals. Cancer care providers devote significant amounts of time and effort to recruit patients into trials and manage their care during the studies. Inadequate reimbursement and recognition for their efforts are increasingly deterring their willingness to initiate or participate in trials, the report concludes.

The committee called on NCI to increase the amount it reimburses clinicians for the costs of managing each of their patients in trials, and to pay for their time and effort spent on designing and carrying out clinical trials. Medical centers should take into account health professionals' participation in clinical trials during their consideration for tenure and promotions. NCI should establish a centralized credentialing system for investigators and sites that wish to participate in a national trials system to increase consistency across sites and eliminate the burden of recredentialing with different cooperative groups. This system also would provide a way to eliminate research sites with low levels of recruitment or inadequate data management capability.

Insurance providers' variable and uncertain coverage of patients' care during studies and overly restrictive eligibility criteria deter patient involvement in clinical trials. The committee called on public and private health plans to cover all nonexperimental costs of participation in clinical studies. Patient eligibility criteria should allow the broadest participation possible to facilitate more rapid recruitment and allow broader generalizations about study results to be made. Greater involvement by patient advocates could help facilitate this change, the committee added. Advocates can provide valuable input to study design and procedures, safety and confidentiality issues, and other factors important to potential research participants.

Funding for the Cooperative Group Program is lower now in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in 1999, and constitutes less than 3 percent of NCI's total budget. Current funding is insufficient to support the number of trials the groups undertake, especially as trials are becoming more complex with a new focus on developing therapies tailored to the molecular and genetic characteristics of individual patients' cancers. NCI should allocate a larger portion of its research portfolio to the program, and if adequate funding is not available, cooperative groups should reduce the number of NCI-funded trials undertaken to a quantity that can be fully supported.

The report was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Cancer Institute, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Association of American Cancer Institutes, and C-Change. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. A committee roster follows.

Link to Nature.com news story

Link to IOM Press Release

Link to IOM Report

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scholarships Available for National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocacy Conference May 22-25

NBCC and NOBCCF have scholarships available for area breast cancer activists who wish to attend NBCC's Annual Advocacy Training Conference in Washington DC.

Start Date:
End Date:  

Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel
999 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
You can apply for NBCC's scholarship, covering registration and lodging expenses here .
Deadline to apply is April 2010, so hurry!

You can apply for NOBCCF's scholarship, covering travel expenses, etc. by sending an email to info@nobcc.org.  We'll send you an application to apply.  Deadline for NOBCCF's application is May 1, 2010.

Mathematical Theories of Cancer Metastasis

A recent article in Forbes magazine discussed Dr. Larry Norton's theories regarding cancer metastasis and "dose-dense" chemotherapy treatment. Dr. Norton is a leading breast cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering's cancer center.

A number of scientists continue to work on theories of cancer metastasis that use mathematical modeling in determining the cycle of how tumors "seed" distant metastasis and even "re-seed" the original tumor site.  Dr. Norton and others have used this knowledge to conduct research on the timing and dose of administering chemotherapy for more effective results. 

There's a lot more in the article, its a good read.

More info

Sunday, March 28, 2010

FAQ's About New Guidelines for Breast Screening in Women under age 50

I was pleased to give a talk recently to the Wellness Council of greater Cleveland about the new guidelines for breast screening issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Many women were understandably confused by conflicting news reports when the guidelines were issued last fall.  Fortunately, National Breast Cancer Coalition developed an excellent list of  frequently asked questions to help women understand the new guidelines and discuss them with their physician.  Following is a sample of just a few of the questions and answers. You can read the rest at this link.

What does the Task Force say about breast cancer screening?

On November 16, 2009, the Task Force released the following new guidelines for healthcare providers:

•    The Task Force does not recommend that women automatically begin mammography screening at the age of 40.  Instead the Task Force recommends that the decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take into account patient context, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms.
•    The Task Force recommends every other year screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years.
•    The Task Force concludes that there is not enough evidence to determine the harms and benefits of screening mammography in women over 74.
•    The Task Force recommends against healthcare providers teaching breast self-examination.
•    There was not enough evidence for the Task Force to make a recommendation on clinical breast examinations, digital mammography, or MRI

Does this mean that women in their 40s will not be able to get mammograms?

NO.  That is a misrepresentation of what the Task Force said.  The Task Force said that the decision to start regular mammography before age 50 should not be automatic but should be an individual decision and take into account the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms. It gives women more control over their health care decisions.

Has breast cancer screening had a significant impact on mortality from breast cancer?

No, over 40,000 women continue to die of breast cancer each year, despite the emphasis on breast cancer screening in our country.  To change this, we must address the facts about breast cancer and not simply accept what we want to believe.  The fact is that all breast cancers are not equal and that we don’t currently have tools for “early detection” that are good enough for the life-threatening breast cancers.

But doesn’t early detection save lives?

Not necessarily. Some breast cancers are slow-growing and have a good prognosis, whenever they are found, whether small or large.  Other breast cancers are aggressive and fast growing, and we don’t have the tools to catch them early enough or treatments that will work.

Why doesn’t mammography work as well for women in their 40s?

Younger women have more dense breast tissue, making mammography less accurate.  Also, mammography is better at detecting slower growing tumors more common in older women, than the fast-growing, aggressive tumors more often found in younger women.  And the balance of benefit vs. harm changes as women get older since the likelihood of breast cancer increases with age.  The disease is relatively rare in younger women.

But shouldn’t a woman in her 40s have a mammogram if she feels a lump?

Certainly. The Task Force recommendations are meant to be guidelines for broad public health policy for healthy women with no symptoms, and an average risk for breast cancer.  These guidelines are not meant for any woman with an increased risk or for any woman who feels a lump or change in her breast.  Women who have any concerns need to visit their doctors and may need diagnostic mammograms.  Mammograms taken to assess a problem are not the kind of mammograms we are talking about with these guidelines.

What’s the harm in trying to detect breast cancer early, even if our methods don’t work that well?

The harms from screening too early or too often include increased false positives, leading to increased imaging and radiation exposure, biopsies and scarring that can affect the accuracy of future mammograms, and anxiety.  There is also the harm of overdiagnosis of breast cancer.  This would involve treatment of cancers that would never be life threatening, and treatment of cancers that may regress, or go away on their own.  The treatments for breast cancer are not aspirin, they are toxic and can be life threatening; the scenario of overdiagnosis should not be taken lightly.

A mammogram/self examination found my breast cancer and I am alive today so these methods clearly work, right?

It is understandable that many people would think that they are alive today because their breast cancer was discovered through screening. But this makes many assumptions that just can’t be known, such as how life-threatening the cancer would have been, if the cancer may have regressed on its own, and whether the cancer would have been discovered in other ways and would have had the same prognosis. The point is, individual stories are not evidence of effectiveness.  Detection, screening, breast cancer…these are all very complicated issues.

Look at bone marrow transplant for breast cancer.  It seemed to make sense: if chemotherapy works, maybe even more chemotherapy would work better.  Bone marrow transplant is a method of giving patients lethal doses of chemotherapy, then replacing their bone marrow.  It was believed that level of dosing would kill all the cancer.  And in some cancers, usually blood based, it worked.  So women with breast cancer received this incredibly toxic treatment outside of clinical trials.  When the trials were actually performed and we had the scientific evidence, it showed that not only was bone marrow transplant not more effective than standard treatment, but it actually resulted in deaths from the treatment itself.  Health care should always be based on the highest level of scientific evidence or well designed studies to get that evidence.

Isn’t it better to give women a simple public health message?

These issues are complex. We would like it to be a simple message, but we also want it to be truthful. Women deserve the truth and are capable of understanding the facts and making their own decisions.

Aren’t these guidelines really about saving money?

These recommendations are not about saving money or about the current health care debate.  The Task Force began their review of breast cancer screening well over two years ago.  The recommendations and accompanying scientific literature were published in the Nov. 17 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.  The recommendations were made by scientists and physicians based on a systematic review of the evidence of the benefits and harms and an assessment of the net benefit.  There were no economists involved and the recommendations were not based on considerations of cost. 

The full list of FAQ's is very helpful and informative, so please make sure to read all of them. You can download your own copy at NBCC's site and share it with your friends and family.  Here's the link.

Please also take a moment to review NBCC's detailed analysis of the USPSTF recommendations and learn more about the importance of high quality scientific evidence in  developing health guidelines for breast screening.  Link to NBCC analysis

New Way to Predict Breast Cancer's Response to Anthracyclines

Researchers have discovered a new way to detect which breast cancers will respond to chemotherapy with anthracyclines.   The research was recently presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference.  To date, there has been no reliable means of detecting which kinds of breast cancer would respond to the drug.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of four large breast cancer trials that included over 3,000 patients. They found that patients with an abnormality on chromosome 17, or CEP 17, treated with anthracycline therapy were 2/3 more likely to have disease free survival and less likely to have recurrence of disease.

Even more encouraging, the test for CEP17 abnormality can be done with the same test used to detect Her2neu susceptibility - a test most breast cancer patients routinely receive.

Read more

Link to Abstract

Questioning Breast Cancer Marketing

A recent article from Canada expresses the growing concern among breast cancer survivors about the movement of breast cancer from being a serious disease to simply a tool to sell products.

The over-emphasis on using breast cancer to sell products changes the focus on which solutions are best in dealing with the disease

In her book Pink Ribbons Inc, Samantha King points out that "it's unlikely that the battle against breast cancer will be won so long as it is approached as a single-issue problem that is unrelated to other health conditions or to broader social issues. Large, corporate-funded, single-issue foundations have come to dominate health advocacy and, as a result, questions related to universal healthcare, discrimination, or the impact of the environment on disease have been pushed to the margins."

Straight Goods - Think before you pink - Breast cancer is a disease, not a marketing opportunity.

Using pink ribbbon marketing to raise "awareness" and focus only on screening is a simplistic solution that could do more harm than good.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

House Passes Health Care Reform Bills

We did it!  Thanks so much to our northern Ohio breast cancer activists for all your help making calls, sending emails and lobbying on Capitol Hill.  Your work was incredibly important in gaining passage of this historic legislation.

We began our work on health care reform in 2001.  At a time when most others didn't understand the need for health care reform, breast cancer activists knew all too well that women were losing the battle against this disease simply because they lacked access to timely, affordable screening and treatment.

Thanks so much to National Breast Cancer Coalition for all their hard work over the years in both policy analysis and development as well as legislative action. Thanks also to key northern Ohio leaders in Congress like Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Rep. Tim Ryan and Rep. Betty Sutton who didn't need to be persuaded to understand the health care crisis breast cancer survivors faced and the utter futility in "finding a cure" when so many patients had no access to treatment. Like us, they awoke every day thinking of what they could do to solve this problem.

The effort for affordable, quality health care for all isn't complete. The Senate still has legislative fixes to pass and there are many improvements needed to ensure cost control, patient protection and adequate enforcement of regulations.   But we're well on the way to our goal of affordable, quality health care for all.  So let's celebrate!

Friday, March 19, 2010

DoD Breast Cancer Research Program - Call Congress Today

It's that time of year again!

It's time to contact your northern Ohio members of the House of Representatives to ask for their signature on the "Dear Colleague" letter supporting renewed funding of $150 million for fiscal year 2011 the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program.

Since 2001, NOBCCF members have successfully advocated for annual funding for this important research program.  Let's make sure it's funded again in 2011.

We're in the final days of getting this letter signed! Call your representative today and ask them to sign the "Dear Colleague" letter in support of renewed funding for 2011!.

Health Care Reform Bill - Ohio Whip Count - Update #3

Northern Ohio breast cancer activists are celebrating the latest news that northern Ohio representatives Dennis Kucinich, John Boccieri, Charlie Wilson and Betty Sutton are all planning to vote for the health care reform bill in the House.

Thanks to all of them for stepping up and making the decision to help over 31 million uninsured Americans get affordable health care.  Make sure to call their offices and give them your thanks!

Updated to add 2 new members to the "yes" column - Reps. Marcia Fudge & Mary Jo Kilroy.  Thanks, Ladies!

Update #2 -  Rep. Marcy Kaptur is leaning "yes" on the vote, per the Toledo Blade.

Update #3 - Rep. Marcy Kaptur confirms she will vote "yes" link

Below is the latest "whip" count for all northern Ohio representatives on the critical HCR vote:

Voting "Yes"

Rep. John Boccieri (OH-16)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Rep. Timothy Ryan (OH-17)
Rep. Betty Sutton (OH-13)
Rep. Charlie Wilson (OH-6)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9)


Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9)
Rep. Zach Space (OH-18)
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15)

Voting "No"

Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-4)
Rep. Steve LaTourette (OH-14)
Rep. Robert Latta (OH-5)
Rep. Patrick Tiberi (OH-12)

Please call the House members who have pledged to vote "yes" and thank them! And call the members who are undecided and ask them to vote "yes"!   It appears the vote will take place this Sunday, so call today!

Link to National Breast Cancer Coalition's Action Center

Let's make this happen!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

National Breast Cancer Coalition 2010 Legislative Priorities

NBCC has released its 2010 Legislative Priorities


Guaranteed Access to Quality Health Care for All: We will not achieve our mission of eradicating breast cancer until everyone has guaranteed access to quality health care. NBCC developed a set of principles and a Framework to guide our work in achieving this goal.


$150 million dollars for FY11 for the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program: The inclusion of consumers in every aspect of decision-making and the Program’s unique grant opportunities have led to groundbreaking scientific advances.

Public Policy Priorities:

Breast Cancer Prevention Initiative: Despite years of effort by scientists, we still don’t know what causes much of this disease or how to prevent it, and we need a plan of action. NBCC will develop an overall breast cancer initiative that will make certain this happens.

Preservation of the Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program: While NBCC pursues its work on guaranteeing access to quality health care for all, we are committed to making sure women screened and diagnosed with breast cancer through federal screening programs have access to the care they need. Congress enacted the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act (P.L. 106-354) in 2000 after years of NBCC grassroots lobbying and influence.

Consumer Involvement in all appropriate venues where decisions about healthcare and research are made: NBCC will pursue federal and state legislation and regulation to ensure meaningful consumer involvement in research and our healthcare system.

Follow this link to learn more details

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

JNCO has published the results of a large scale observational study indicating regular use of aspirin by breast cancer survivors reduces risk of recurrence by 50%.

“This is the first study to find that aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of cancer spread and death for women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer, " said Michelle Holmes, MD, DrPH, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School & Harvard School of Public Health and the study's lead author. “If these findings are confirmed in other clinical trials, taking aspirin may become another simple, low-cost and relatively safe tool to help women with breast cancer live longer, healthier lives."

Investigators report it is not yet clear how aspirin affects cancer cells, but they speculate it decreases the risk of cancer metastasis by reducing inflammation, which is closely associated with cancer development. Prior studies have also suggested that aspirin inhibits cancer spread: one study found that people with colon cancer who took aspirin lived longer than those who did not, and laboratory studies have also shown that aspirin inhibited the growth and invasiveness of breast cancer cells.
In the study, 4,164 women nurses who had been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer were followed for 4 years.  Women who took aspirin 2-5 days per week experienced a 60% reduced risk of metastasis and 71% lower risk of death. Women who took aspirin more frequently experienced a 43% lower risk of metastasis and 64% lower risk of death.   Similar benefit was seen for women who took NSAIDs 6 or 7 days a week, but there was no benefit for women who took acetaminophen.

More research needs to be conducted to establish a direct link, but the results are encouraging.  Past research has indicated a possible link between breast cancer and inflammation and is certainly worth pursuing.  Talk to your doctor if you are interested in knowing more.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NBCC LEADCast on Comparative Effectiveness Feb. 11

Reminder to ProjectLEAD grads, don't forget to sign up for NBCC's upcoming LEADcast on Comparative Effectiveness research.

National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund:

Breast cancer multigene test helping patients avoid chemotherapy

Research continues to show the benefits of Genomic Health's Oncotype DX test for newly diagnosed breast cancer. The test, used for estrogen receptor positive cancers, examines a sample from the breast cancer tumor, anlyzing 21 genes to develop a score calculating the patient's individual risk of recurrence. Low scores indicate breast cancer isn't likely to recur while higher scores indicate greater likelihood. The score allows oncologists and patients to personalize a treatment plan, forgoing chemotherapy if risk is low and vice versa.

The latest study showed the test allowed a significant number of patients to choose hormone therapy alone instead of chemotherapy combined with hormone therapy.

Breast cancer multigene test helping patients avoid chemotherapy

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Differences in Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: Experiences of Insured and Uninsured Women in a Safety-Net Setting - The Commonwealth Fund

As we get down to the wire on passing historic legislation to reform our health care and insurance system in the US, its worth taking a look at the negative impact lack of health insurance has on women diagnosed with breast cancer.

This recent study from the Commonwealth Fund highlights the differences between insured and uninsured women in accessing breast cancer diagnosis and completing treatment.

"Even after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, uninsured women
with breast cancer are more likely than their insured counterparts to require
more costly treatment and are more likely to have worse outcomes. The
current health care safety net is not a substitute for universal health
insurance coverage."

Differences in Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: Experiences of Insured and Uninsured Women in a Safety-Net Setting - The Commonwealth Fund