On March 10, 2011, Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) hosted a symposium titled “Eliminating Breast Cancer Health Disparities: Communicating to At-Risk Populations.” Panelists included: Dr. Rachel Brem, The George Washington University Medical Center; Tesha Coleman, the Capitol Breast Care Center; Dr. Marc Hurlbert, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade; Dr. Christopher Masi, The University of Chicago; and Dr. Stephen Taplin, the National Cancer Institute.
The event, supported by the Avon Foundation for Women and the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates was held at the George Washington University Jack Morton Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The event drew members from across the cancer and health care communities to discuss how cancer centers, community health centers, advocacy organizations and government agencies can best disseminate information to at-risk populations.
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz delivers keynote
After a welcome by GWU President Dr. Steven Knapp and Friends Chair Dr. Ellen Sigal, a keynote address was delivered by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, (pictured above) a breast cancer survivor and outspoken advocate for prevention and early detection measures. “There have been so many advances in screening and treatment of cancer,” she stated, “but all of that is moot if women are not learning about their bodies, taking steps to reduce risk factors and getting regular and appropriate screening.” She used her own experience to highlight the need for education and awareness for those who may be at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
(L-R) Stephen Taplin, Christopher Masi, Marc Hurlbert, Tesha Coleman, Rachel Brem
Friends President Marlene Malek gave brief remarks and introduced the panel. Dr. Brem opened the discussion by summarizing actions that have already been taken to reduce disparities among at-risk populations and challenges still facing the community. Topics addressed during the panel discussion included how organizations are reaching out to at-risk populations, what government entities are doing to ensure all women have access to screenings and information, understanding the unique biological differences in breast cancer, how to engage diverse groups in clinical trials, and the impact of the United States Prevention Services Task Force recommendation to delay regular mammography screenings has had on the at-risk community.
Panelists agreed that a comprehensive approach, including studying women without cancer, is necessary in order to have to most impact on the whole of the cancer community. “If you don’t do research on all women…you’re not going to solve the problem in all women,” said Dr. Masi. The Avon Foundation’s Army of Women, a large volunteer group of women who have expressed interest in receiving information or participating in research studies, was cited as an example of engaging healthy women in clinical research.
Friends and MD Anderson Cancer Center Co-host Clinical Cancer Research Roundtable on Cancer Treatment-Related Toxicities and Symptoms
Building on a previous discussion at the 2010 Conference on Clinical Cancer Research, Friends partnered with MD Anderson Cancer Center to host a clinical cancer research roundtable titled “Developing Strategies for Reducing Cancer Treatment-Related Toxicities and Symptoms” on March 25th in Houston, TX. The conference brought together stakeholders in cancer research, drug development, regulation, and advocacy to identify the challenges that have prevented progress in reducing treatment-related symptom burden and to develop strategic steps to meet these challenges.
Although cancer treatment-related toxicities are prevalent and often severe, there is little systemic research on the mechanisms of these toxicities or on the development of new agents to reduce or eliminate them. The result of treatment-related toxicities can be life altering, greatly effect medical decision making, and potentially prevent further treatment for patients.
The working group concluded with a discussion moderated by Friends Executive Director Dr. Jeff Allen about defining a proactive strategy, including advocacy opportunities to promote research about treatment-related toxicities. The discussion centered on the need for more research into the molecular mechanisms that result in toxic side effects, how to capitalize on existing data sources to better understand acute and long term effects of treatment, and how to develop additional information about emerging treatments in the context of changes to the U.S. health care system.
Navigating the Appropriations Process in 2011
FY2011 Budget So Far
Congress was unable to agree to and pass a budget before the fiscal year 2010 budget expired on October 1, 2010, and have since passed a series of “continuing resolutions” (CR) to continue to fund government operations on an interim basis. Although the House passed HR 1, a bill that would fund the government for the remainder of FY2011 at approximately $60 billion below FY2010 levels, the bill did not garner enough support to pass the Senate. The two chambers are currently working to find agreeable terms. Two short term CRs, the latter of which expires on April 8, 2011, have already cut a total of $10 billion in federal funds (none of which directly impacted NIH or FDA).
FDA and NIH
Under HR 1, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) would face deep cuts that leaders of the agencies and throughout the science community argue would have dire implications on patient access and safety as well as on biomedical research, including cancer research programs.
Unless the House and Senate are able to agree on and pass a long term funding solution by April 8, there will be a government shutdown. In the event of a government shutdown, all “nonessential” federal workers would be furloughed but essential federal services such as law enforcement, national defense, and activities pertaining to public health and safety would continue. It is not certain at what level the FDA and NIH would be affected.
Friends of Cancer Research 2010 Annual Report Now Available
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