By: Sean Tuffnell
In the late 1970s, when Susan Komen was diagnosed with
breast cancer little was known about the disease and access to screening and
effective treatments were hard to come by. There was also a lot of fear and myths about the disease. People would cross the street from her afraid
that they might “catch” her cancer. And
while a lot has changed since those days, many women across the globe face
those same fears, myths and lack of access to basic care.
On this World Cancer Day, Susan G. Komen President and CEO,
Paula Schneider spoke to employees at technology leader Salesforce highlighting
how far we’ve come, how far we still have to go, and simple
ways that they can help.
Thanks to access to regular screenings, we are detecting and
treating cancers earlier. And thanks to
research, our understanding of how to treat this family of diseases has and
improved. We now have an arsenal of
targeted treatments. The combination of
early detection and more effective treatments has helped us decrease the
mortality rate for breast cancer in the U.S. by 40 percent since 1989.
Yet for all of our progress, we still have a lot of work to
do. 42,000 people are still dying every
year in the U.S. For all of our targeted
treatments, we still have not cracked the riddle of metastatic breast cancer –
stage IV disease, where the breast cancer has spread to other vital organs of
the body. At some point in time, those
living with metastatic breast cancer know that every treatment we currently
have will fail them. That’s why we must
continue to invest in new breakthroughs.
At the same time, not everyone here – or across the globe –
has equal access to quality care. Breast
cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second leading
cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Every 60 seconds, somewhere in the world, a
woman dies from breast cancer. That's more than 1,400 women every day.
African-American women living in the United States are 40
percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. There are many reasons for this, some are
biological, come are social. African-American
women are often diagnosed later when treatments are limited, costly and the
prognosis is poor; and diagnosed younger and with more aggressive breast
cancers. We are doing a couple of things to combat this – from
research, to community outreach to public education.
Internationally, the number of new breast cancer cases has
more than doubled around the world in the last three decades, with the highest
increases throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Western
sub-Saharan Africa and Central Latin America. Breast cancer is also the leading
cause of cancer death in low-resource countries around the world. These trends
are concerning, which is why Komen works tirelessly to provide support to
breast health programs worldwide.
We believe it takes collaboration and strong partnerships to
make a global impact. We strive to serve as a “bridge” – partnering with
international nonprofits, corporations and Ministries of Health to bring
together people and organizations who share our passion. Through these
partnerships, we are able to develop programs that are sensitive to cultural
differences and tailored to the specific needs of the community.
This World Cancer Day let’s all commit to doing whatever we
can to create a world where no one dies from breast cancer.
Return to Blog Home