National Breast Cancer Coalition

Call to Action Online - August 2015

DOD BCRP Victory

The Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (DOD BCRP) is one of the most efficient, innovative and successful government programs and has produced results that directly benefited women and men everywhere.The program was threatened recently when Senator John McCain (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would do irreparable damage to the DOD BCRP. In response, NBCC developed a strategy and our grassroots network worked hard to educate other members of the Senate about the importance of the program. Ultimately Senator McCain did not seek a vote on the amendment, and the Senate passed the NDAA.

While this is a huge victory, we must remain vigilant until this bill and the Appropriations bill become law. We are grateful to Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, who spoke highly on the floor of the Senate about the DOD BCRP and the important research being conducted.

Thank you to our National Action Network advocates, who kept the pressure on during this critical vote!

Project LEAD® Institute Held In July!

Advocates bring a vital perspective to breast cancer research, particularly if they are well educated and trained.  And Project LEAD®  is NBCC's premier science training program, providing breast cancer advocates with the education and training they need to understand complex medical information and to play an active role in breast cancer research and in the health care arena. More than 2400 advocates have been trained since 1995 through a variety of Project LEAD®   courses from introductory to the intensive Institute. Thanks to the generosity of the Vance Wall Foundation LEAD Match Challenge and top sponsors Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA), PfizerBioMarin and TRIO, over 50 advocates graduated from the Institute this year.

The 2015 class included advocates from over 20 states, international advocates from Sweden, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and two male advocates. New this year was an expanded set of lectures and a study session on immunology taught by two immunology researchers from NIH and the University of Washington. Graduates of the rigorous program will play a critical role in programs such as the DOD BCRP, NBCC’s Artemis Project®, clinical trials and local research programs around the country and the world ensuring that advocates have a credible voice anywhere decisions about breast cancer research are being made.

Research News

The controversy around breast cancer screening and treatment continues to swirl after two more papers emerged recently. Two studies in two months have confirmed previous reports that screening mammography is not saving lives and that the aggressive treatment of a non-cancerous condition called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or stage 0 breast cancer does not reduce the risk of death from breast cancer.  In fact, a woman with the precancerous DCIS who has undergone lumpectomy and radiation or mastectomy, has the same risk of dying of breast cancer as the general population (Narod, 2015). DCIS diagnoses have been increasing since screening mammography has been implemented on a population basis. In the late 1970s, a DCIS diagnosis was rare (2.1%) (Rosner 1980), but now DCIS constitutes approximately 17% of all new breast cancer diagnoses, estimated to be over 51,000 cases in 2015 (ACS 2015). DCIS  is not invasive cancer, but it is usually treated in the same manner.

In the first paper, published in JAMA Internal Medicine in July (Harding, 2015), researchers looked at data from the year 2000 for 16 million women 40 or older, to understand how effective screening mammograms are in detecting larger tumors and reducing the death rate from breast cancer. They found that 53,207 of the women had been diagnosed with breast cancer that year. These women were then followed for 10 years. Not surprisingly, the higher the proportion of the population that was screened, the higher the incidence of breast cancer. But there was no association between increased screening and decreased mortality. In fact, screening just increased the number of small tumors that were found and mortality rates stayed the same. Simply stated, this paper showed that screening women for breast cancer did not reduce their risk of death from breast cancer.

The second paper, published in JAMA Oncology in August (Narod, 2015), looked at the treatment of DCIS. They evaluated data for 108,196 women who received a diagnosis of DCIS between 1998 and 2011 to estimate the breast cancer mortality rate after treatment by breast conserving surgery (also called lumpectomy) with or without radiation or by mastectomy. Narod and colleagues found that there was no difference in breast cancer specific mortality for mastectomy or lumpectomy with or without radiation in these women diagnosed with DCIS. The risk of death from DCIS is very low for all subsets of women (fewer than 1% in the study with 20 year follow up), and within that low risk, this study indicates that women under 35 (1% of the DCIS population) and black women have a higher risk of death than white women. 

Taken together, these two papers add to the evidence that we are screening more women to find a pre-cancerous mass that may or may not be harmful, treating it the same way invasive cancers are treated without any change in risk of death.

The Artemis Projects®

The Artemis Projects® are an advocate led, innovative, mission driven approach to strategic summits, catalytic workshops, research actions plans and collaborative efforts of various stakeholders focused on two areas:

Primary Prevention: How do we stop people from getting breast cancer?

Prevention of Metastasis: How do we stop people from dying of breast cancer?

Read the 2015 Annual Meeting Reports

NBCC in the News

Fran Visco in the Huffington Post

NBCC 2015 Les Girls Cabaret

Advocates in the News