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Lack Of Commitment, Funding Impede Fight Against Breast Cancer

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

American women increasingly believe that the goal of breast cancer research should be ending rather than simply treating breast cancer, according to a new survey released today by the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC). Women see two main obstacles hindering that fight - first, that drug companies are not as committed as they should be to saving lives as opposed to making profits, and second, that there is insufficient federal funding directed to innovative research models.

The survey also revealed that a number of myths and misperceptions surrounding the disease persist.

Overcoming the obstacles and challenging the misinformation about breast cancer gives additional emphasis to NBCC's efforts to draw attention to this disease in this election cycle.

"This year's survey highlights the importance of breast cancer in the minds of American women. The obstacles they've noted will continue to be addressed by NBCC and must also be a priority of the next President and Congress. Women are expressing a need for the type of leadership, focus and commitment NBCC brings to the eradication of this disease," said NBCC President Fran Visco. "So on November 4th, NBCC calls on voters to choose candidates who display strong leadership and the political will to work with us to confront the obstacles to eradicating breast cancer. We must elect leaders who will embrace equal access to quality care, who will ensure breast cancer is a priority and who will ensure necessary resources are available and all stakeholders are working together to eradicate breast cancer."

NBCC believes that eradicating breast cancer can only be achieved through innovative research, equality of access, and the influence of consumer advocates wherever breast cancer research decisions are made. NBCC's 2008 Federal Platform centers around leadership and their commitment to advocate for policies, programs and research that are patient-centered, serve the needs of individuals, and contribute to an equitable and efficient system.

As part of its long-standing effort to eradicate breast cancer, NBCC will call upon the new Administration and both houses of Congress to:

-- fully support and adhere to policies, programs and research that are patient-centered, serve the needs of individuals, and contribute to an equitable and efficient system of health care delivery;

-- guarantee access to quality healthcare for all;

-- provide the necessary resources for innovative research, including adequate funding for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program; and

-- preserve the Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP).

The survey, sponsored by NBCC and made public today, was fielded in August by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, and includes responses from 1,002 women over the age of 21 with incomes of $35,000 or more and at least a high school degree.

Survey Results:

The Eradication of the Disease

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-- Nearly 1 in 3 women surveyed increasingly feel that the focus of breast cancer research should be on the eradication of the disease.

-- Specifically, 25 percent of those respondents age 21-24 believe that complete eradication of breast cancer should be the focus and future of breast cancer, compared to 13 percent of those respondents age 18-24 in 2007.

-- The study finds that twice as many women believe breast cancer will be eradicated in their children's lifetime as opposed to their own.

-- 30 percent of those respondents age 50+ doubted that therapies or treatments will be developed to prevent breast cancer in their lifetime.

Lack of Industry Commitment to Profits Over Saving Lives

-- 86 percent of consumers agree that drug companies are not as committed as they should be to saving lives; instead their focus on generating profit is hurting the fight to eliminate breast cancer. Federal Government Is Still Seen As the Entity That Should Be Held Responsible For Research Funding

-- A third of women surveyed (34 percent) believe that the federal government should be the most responsible for research funding, surpassing the role and responsibility of breast cancer foundations, research organizations and drug companies. In addition, the survey revealed that 81 percent of those surveyed agree that lack of governmental funding is detrimental to the overall fight against breast cancer.

Myths and Misperceptions Continue to Pervade Women's Understanding about the Disease

-- Women continue to mistakenly believe that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year (86 percent).

-- In fact, the actual statistic is based on lifetime risk and is correctly stated as "1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime."(i)

-- Women continue to mistakenly believe the most common predictors of breast cancer are a genetic pre-disposition and family history (75 percent) with nearly 2 in 3 incorrectly believing the myth that 75 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.

-- In fact, over two thirds of women diagnosed have no known risk factor. Even though having an inherited mutation in certain genes is the most potent risk factor, the National Cancer Institute states: "these genes are rare in the general population and are estimated to account for no more than 5 percent to 10 percent of breast and ovarian cancer cases overall."(ii)

-- Women increasingly and mistakenly believe that having a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the most effective preventative measure (74 percent).

-- In fact, the most recent studies have found no significant decrease in breast cancer incidence when vegetable and fruit consumption was increased.(iii)