By: Paula Schneider
President & CEO of Susan G. Komen
The last nine months since joining Susan G. Komen as President and CEO have been eye-opening – and I say that as a breast cancer survivor with a family history of the disease. We’ve made such significant progress in research, treatment, screening and education – a far cry from 36 years ago when our doors first opened.
But one especially stubborn and difficult fight we must win is against metastatic breast cancer (MBC) – breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs (like the lungs, brain, liver or bones). An estimated 154,000 women and men are living with MBC in the U.S. today, and more than 40,000 people will die from MBC every year. It is unacceptable.
We need to better understand why breast cancer spreads and how to prevent it; why some patients are impacted, sometimes years after their initial breast cancer diagnosis, while others aren’t; and how to treat MBC to help those living with the disease live longer and with a higher quality of life. Komen is fully committed to answering these questions – as quickly as possible – for all those living with MBC, and their loved ones.
We know the need is urgent – that’s why we’ve set a goal to cut that number in half by 2026. We’ll accomplish this through continued funding for innovative research into metastatic and aggressive breast cancers, combined with a multifaceted approach to address the reasons why certain people and communities are more likely to die from the disease.
Sometimes it can feel like the work doesn’t happen fast enough. We all wish we could end breast cancer tomorrow. But exciting progress has been happening – even in the short time since I got here! So, below are some exciting developments I wanted to share related to metastatic breast cancer – in research, patient support and treatment assistance, and by serving as a collaborator and convener.
Currently Komen supports 97 active grants, totaling more than $54.4 million for research focused on why metastasis occurs, how to detect it, and how to treat it more effectively. Fifteen of these grants support a clinical trial, and 71 of these grants are focused on treatment – identifying, developing, or testing new treatments for metastatic breast cancer. To date, we’ve invested more than $180 million in metastatic breast cancer research.
We are beginning to see some early signs of progress from some of the research we have funded recently. For example:
Education and Patient Support: While research is extremely important, we also help support women and men living with metastatic breast cancer today through a variety of national programs and locally through our network of Komen Affiliates in communities across the country. For example:
Public Policy & Advocacy: Komen has also been advocating for federal and state policies that directly impact those living with metastatic breast cancer. For example:
Convener and Collaborator: One of the unique roles Komen can play in the effort to drive more research and provide vital support is by bringing people together.
I look forward to sharing more important milestones in the future. In the interim, let’s use these updates as inspiration for the work that’s left to do. Because this fight is far from over. But, Breast Cancer: we’re coming for you.
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