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  • President’s Cancer Panel: The Future of Cancer Research

    Chandini Portteus and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D.

    Komen VP of Research, Evaluation and Scientific Programs, Chandini Portteus and Margaret Kripke, Ph.D. Professor of Immunology and Vivian Smith Chair Emerita, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and member of President’s Cancer Panel

    A big focus for Susan G. Komen for the Cure is innovation and collaboration in cancer research, and so I was very pleased this week to represent Komen before the President’s Cancer Panel – the three-member panel that reports to the president about the progress and effectiveness of the nation’s cancer programs. The President’s Cancer Panel holds meetings four times a year – this meeting was about the future of cancer research.

    We focused our testimony on the need to answer the really difficult questions that still plague us in cancer research.  In breast cancer, these include why some cancers spread aggressively and others don’t; how best to treat and attack aggressive and metastatic cancers; why cancer seems to be more prevalent or deadly in some groups of people than others, and, of course, the best strategies for preventing cancer all together. These are the questions we’re attempting to answer in Komen’s research program ($610 million invested in research to date),

    We’re acutely aware, however, that no one agency, non-profit or research institution can come to these answers all by itself – there’s a lot that we can learn from each other, and truth is, we get better and more creative solutions when we find ways to share the vast knowledge that resides in the world’s laboratories and clinics.

    Along these lines, we formalized this collaborative approach at Komen in 2008 with our Promise Grants program.  Promise Grants are five-year, multi-million dollar grants aimed at getting to answers — urgently — for the toughest issues in breast cancer.  These grants are just part of our research portfolio, and they’re unique in that they require collaboration between researchers, practitioners, advocates and others  — sometimes within one institution, and sometimes across several institutions.

    We currently have 14 Promise Grants looking into treatments for aggressive cancers and prevention strategies.  We’re excited that seven of these are already going to clinical trials, just two-and-a-half years into our program.  We expect that within the term of these grants we’ll see 16 clinical trials result.

    We’ve also developed meaningful partnerships with institutions and research organizations, like the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank with Indiana University, the Institute of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.

    We do this because if we’ve learned nothing else in 30 years, it’s that cancer is extraordinarily complex. We’ve made a lot of progress in some areas, but there’s a lot more to do. It requires the cancer community to come together to address the issues, especially as we learn more about the genetic basics of cancer, and how new statistical models and data can help in cancer screening, prevention and care. Sharing information and working together can help us get to the answers more quickly.

    I’d like to thank the President’s Cancer Panel for the opportunity to share Komen’s views today – this was especially meaningful because our founder and CEO, Nancy G. Brinker, was a member of this panel in the early 1990s. I invite you to learn more about Komen’s research programs here.

  • Training Community Educators in Brazil

    Guest post from Susan G. Komen for the Cure Manager of Community Health, Catherine Oliveros, DrPH

    Course for the Cure™We find ourselves in Sao Paulo, Brazil enjoying its warm weather, familiarizing ourselves with its mountainous streets and learning that Sao Paulo is known, well, for…its pizza. Some locals report that the Brazilians have improved on the Italian version – we have yet to find out.

    The true mission of our trip to Sao Paulo, however, is not to weigh in on the pizza debate, but more importantly to observe the pilot of Komen’s Community Educators Program (CEP), a new curriculum being launched as part of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Global Initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness.

    This is exciting work, where we share what we’ve learned about how effective breast cancer education programs can lead to behavior change in communities with advocacy groups and health professionals “in country.” We’re working together to establish education programs that will lead to better breast cancer outcomes in Brazil. It was terrific meeting and working this week with a great group of individuals from Albert Einstein Hospital in Brazil. We had three days of training, led by the Brazil country team, Luciana Holtz de Camargo Barros and Maria Theresa Veit.

    Our Community Educators Program builds on previous work that we have done in Brazil and 6 other countries through the Course for the Cure™ program.

    About 45,000 women in Brazil were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 – it is the most prevalent cancer among women there. All of us are working to “downstage” the disease in Brazil, that is, get to a place where women arrive for medical treatment at the very earliest stages of breast cancer, when it is easier to treat.

    I love being able to meet women and men who are as passionate about ending this disease as I am, no matter where they live and work. I’d like to thank our hosts in Brazil for a great and meaningful three days of training, and for a partnership that will be so meaningful. To learn more about our global work, visit http://www.globalkomen.org .

  • Why the Movement Matters

    Nancy G. Brinker at the 2010 Global Race for the CureThis weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, Komen kicks off the 2011 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure series with the 20th anniversary of the South Florida Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.   There are now more than 1 million people running in more than 140 Komen races in countries all around the world – a huge jump from the 800 brave souls who first gathered in Dallas for the first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 1982.

    Some run to win, others to remember or celebrate a friend or loved one who is surviving a breast cancer diagnosis.  They raise funds for research and the Komen programs that serve millions of women every day.

    The Komen Race for the Cure series is open to everyone– young, old, rich, poor, and the famous.  Among the famous?  Hoda Kotb, NBC network host, who is a breast cancer survivor and honorary chair of the Palm Beach race.

    Hoda talks here with Kelley Dunn of Channel 5 in Palm Beach about her own experience with breast cancer, what that first Race as a breast cancer survivor meant to her – and why the movement matters.

  • What You Should Know About Breast Implants

    Breast Implants
    Source: FDA

    If you’ve had reconstructive surgery or are thinking about it, take note.

    Yesterday, the FDA announced a possible link between saline and silicone gel-filled breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). While ALCL is extremely rare, the FDA believes women with breast implants may have a very small but increased risk of developing this disease in the scar capsule adjacent to the implant.

    The disease is diagnosed in only 3 of 100 million women in the United States without breast implants and the FDA is aware of about 60 cases of ALCL worldwide in women with breast implants, which is small compared to the estimated 5 to 10 million women who have implants worldwide. The FDA is asking health care providers to be vigilant in considering ALCL and reporting confirmed cases to the FDA for further study. Additionally, the FDA does not recommend that women without symptoms consider removal of their implants, nor do they suggest any change in routine medical care or follow-up.

    We encourage you to know your body and what is normal for you. Report any changes to your breast to your oncologist or plastic surgeon and if you’re considering the procedure, talk to your surgeon about the risks and benefits.

    Learn more about breast implants and breast cancer risk here, and read our official statement here.

  • For the Cure

    As you may have seen, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams aired a segment this evening that focused on Susan G. Komen for the Cure trademark issues around use of the words “for the Cure.” While there are aspects of the segment that we feel could have been more balanced, we do recognize that this issue needs additional clarification.  If we’ve been perhaps a bit overzealous in protecting our name, it’s because we feel a huge responsibility to our family of volunteers and donors and all of those who are helped by our mission to discover and deliver the cures for breast cancer.

    Of course, we are always evolving and looking at how we can improve, and that includes an examination of our trademark protection strategy—an examination that started long before this controversy began brewing.  As we made clear in the Nightly News segment, this work is actively underway, and we expect to share a new strategy within the next 30-60 days. Read more