Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Most Effective Breast Cancer-Fighting Organization in the World

Written by W. Phil Evans, M.D., F.A.C.R., the director of the Center for Breast Care at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. 

As a radiologist specializing in breast imaging and an American Cancer Society volunteer for many years, I have a unique perspective on life-saving early detection with mammography and the extraordinary role of the Society in breast cancer care. Over the years, I have had to tell many women that they have breast cancer, and the Society has always been there for them. Today, one of every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reaches out to the Society for help and support. In every community, we provide free information and services–when and where it’s needed.

Doctors know that when found early rather than late, breast cancer is much easier to treat, and the chance of survival is significantly greater. The Society has helped translate this knowledge into action that has improved and saved many lives by increasing public awareness of breast cancer, developing screening guidelines, and providing clinician education programs. For years, the Society has recommended that women begin screening at age 40 with yearly mammography and clinical breast exam.  Largely due to screening and improved treatments, the breast cancer death rate has decreased by over 30% since 1990 and will approach a 40% reduction by 2015.

Although screening mammography is very effective in reducing breast cancer deaths, it does have limitations. Mammography detects most but not all breast cancers early.  A clinical examination and breast awareness are part of the screening process for women at average breast cancer risk.  If you have a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, genetic testing may be appropriate to determine if you have a gene mutation that places you and possibly a member of your family at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.  Additional imaging with ultrasound and/or MRI in addition to mammography may be recommended for those at high risk.

While we do not yet know how to prevent breast cancer, research supported by the Society suggests how a woman may reduce her breast cancer risk by:
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life,
  • Engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity, and
  • Reducing alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.
For women diagnosed with breast cancer, the Society is ready to help around the clock in communities nationwide. The National Cancer Information Center (1-800-227-2345 or is staffed 24/7 with specialists who answer calls and e-mails and monitor chat room discussions.  They assist patients and caregivers with information requests and service referrals.  We provide emotional support for the newly diagnosed both in person and online, transportation assistance to and from treatment, free lodging if treatment is far from home, free wigs and help with treatment-related side effects, and tips, tools, and resources for nutritional needs during treatment, recovery, and survivorship.

The Society passionately fights back against breast cancer through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer –the largest network of breast cancer events in the nation, uniting more than 270 communities to fund the fight. The walks are 3-5 miles and the walkers raised more than $60 million last year to find cures and save lives. In addition, through the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), our nonprofit, nonpartisan, advocacy affiliate, breast cancer remains a top priority for our nation’s lawmakers. Through ACS CAN, we support federal legislation that will increase access to treatment for breast cancer patients and quality of life for survivors. Moreover, ACS CAN has lobbied Congress for continued support the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). This program helps low income, uninsured, and underinsured women obtain access to screening and treatment and has provided over 10 million screening exams to four million women, finding more than 52,000 breast cancers. Finally, ACS CAN urges Congress to robustly fund breast cancer research that will improve prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship.

The American Cancer Society has played a role in nearly every major breast cancer breakthrough in recent history and will continue the work until the disease is defeated.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Local Relay Leaders Attend Leadership Summit

 Article published in the September 27, 2012 issue of The Mena Star

Relay Cheerleaders

The American Cancer Society held the Mid-South Division Relay For Life Leadership Summit September 21st and 22nd at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Arkansas.  Four members of the Relay For Life of Polk County committee attended the Summit; Richie and Regina Lawry, Crystal Mos, and Debbie Welch.  The purpose of the Summit was to inspire hope, courage, and determination in the fight to eliminate cancer. If there is one word that defines Relay For Life it is "hope".
The Relay For Life Leadership Summit welcomed over 1,200 volunteers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.  The theme of the Summit was Dream Big - Hope Big - Relay Big.  Cancer is a BIG foe.  To defeat it we are going to have to Dream BIG, Hope BIG and Relay BIG.  In 2011, Arkansas held 71 Relay For Life events with 1,534 teams and 2,990 cancer survivors participating. Arkansas Relayers are looking for bigger things in 2013. 
Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated.  Relay For Life is more than just a fundraiser. It’s a life-changing experience. At Relay, every person in the community has a chance to celebrate, remember, and fight back. And every person who participates joins others around the globe as part of this worldwide movement to end cancer.
The Relay For Life of Polk County attendees came back determined to dream big, hope big and Relay big.  If you would like to be a part of something big, call Regina Lawry at 479-234-1608.