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Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Here Again!

Posted on: October 3, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Here Again!

Dr. Tiffany Svahn

It seems like just yesterday that we were honoring Breast Cancer Awareness in 2011 – while the year has gone by quickly, it has not done so without leaving its mark in the advancement of breast cancer treatment.

We all know that breast cancer is a very important health issue for women – it is the most common cancer in women, and the second most common cause of cancer death. In 2011, there were more than 220,000 new diagnoses and more than 40,000 deaths due to breast cancer in the United States. But the most important statistic is that there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in this country right now! That is due to improvements in screening, leading to earlier diagnosis, as well as advancements in treatments that increase the cure rate. We often hear the phrase that we need to “find a cure for breast cancer”, when in reality, we actually cure more than 90% of women diagnosed with this disease.

Although there are some women whose breast cancer cannot be cured, we now live in a time when incurable breast cancer can be treated as a chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease. There are many different treatments options for women with metastatic breast cancer, and these treatments lead to longer survival and improved quality of life. In the past year, three new drugs have entered the arena for breast cancer treatment, making it a record year in breast cancer advances. Two of the drugs, pertuzumab (Perjeta) and TDM-1, target HER2-positive breast cancers, while everolimus (Afinitor) treats hormone-responsive breast cancer. Both pertuzumab and everolimus are already FDA-approved, and we anticipate approval of TDM-1 in the near future.

We are fortunate to live in a time and a community in which there is a great focus on breast cancer awareness. Locally, there are some important events in the upcoming weeks. The Sunvalley Mall in Pleasant Hill will host the second “Surviving in Style” Fashion Show in conjunction with their “Pink Up the Mall” campaign on October 7th. “The Many Faces of Breast Cancer”, a program that focuses on the issues of breast cancer survivorship, will see its fourth year of an auditorium filled with breast cancer survivors on October 13th at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek. On October 18th, John Muir Health Center will have “An Evening in Pink” that begins at the Women’s Health Center and continues through downtown Walnut Creek. These are just a few of the events occurring in our community throughout the month. Whether you are a survivor, a loved one, a caregiver, or just one who cares, we hope to see many of you out there this month, supporting the cause!

Tiffany Svahn, MD is a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology. Dr. Svahn specializes in breast cancer. Diablo Valley Oncology’s comprehensive cancer center is located at the California Cancer and Research Institute in Pleasant Hill. For more information call 925-677-5041.