On September 20, 2010, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) launched Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, a call to action for policymakers, researchers, breast cancer advocates and other stakeholders to end the disease by January 1, 2020. In order to achieve this goal, it will take an entirely new approach to the way we think about, research and talk about breast cancer. Over the past year, NBCC has worked extensively towards the goal of ending breast cancer by the end of the decade and will continue until the goal is met. The Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act (H.R. 3067), introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (CA-33) and Rep. Charlie Bass (NH-2), is a vital component of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® and complements and enhances these efforts.
In the United States, the chance of a woman developing breast cancer during her lifetime has increased from 1 in 11 in 1975 to 1 in 8 today. Worldwide, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women with 1.3 million cases and the leading cause of cancer death with more than 500,000 women dying from the disease in 2010.
The National Cancer Institute estimated that breast cancer care in the United States cost $16.5 billion in 2009 and cost the nation $12.1 billion in lost productivity. Over the past decades, government, private and charitable sectors have invested billions of dollars towards breast cancer, from which we have developed a new understanding of basic biological processes and risk factors important in breast cancer.
Despite these investments and discoveries, very little has changed in terms of breast cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality rates over the past 40 years. In 1991, 119 women died of breast cancer every day. Last year, that number was estimated to be 110, adding up to nearly 40,000 lost lives.
Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® was conceived by NBCC in reaction to these realities. Today, we know little about how to prevent breast cancer or how to prevent deaths from the disease. While we have discovered new ways to treat breast cancer, they have not had a great effect on the important outcomes: preventing breast cancer and making certain no one dies of it.
In order to change these facts, Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® will focus on primary prevention of the disease and on the causes and prevention of metastasis – the spread of the disease to other parts of the body – which is responsible for over 90% of breast cancer deaths. As part of these efforts, NBCC has launched the Artemis Project, which is designed to create a strategic, systematic approach to the development of a breast cancer preventive vaccine. NBCC has also held two strategic Summits, one on the causes and prevention of metastasis in August 2011, and one on breast cancer prevention in October 2011. These Summits brought together advocates, scientists and other stakeholders with the goal of identifying key questions which must be answered in each of these areas in order to end breast cancer by the end of the decade.
In addition, NBCC is issuing Annual Progress Reports. These reports, which summarize the state of breast cancer as well as the status of NBCC’s work to end breast cancer, hold us and the entire breast cancer community accountable and provide transparency to our efforts. The first of these Progress Reports, “Ending Breast Cancer: A Baseline Status Report” (http://www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org/2020/assets/pdfs/2011-progress-report.pdf) was released in May 2011 and provides a snapshot of the current state of breast cancer, as well as a framework of NBCC’s plan of action.
In order to achieve the goal of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, NBCC knows it must change the conversation about breast cancer wherever it is happening, including in Congress and the Administration. The Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act, introduced as H.R. 3067 in the House of Representatives and soon to be introduced in the Senate, defines an important role that the federal government must play in this effort.
Like Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, H.R. 3067 focuses on identifying strategies for the primary prevention of breast cancer and identifying methods to prevent breast cancer metastasis. It would create the Commission to Accelerate the End of Breast Cancer comprised of the best minds in biomedical research, business, breast cancer advocacy, and other related and unrelated disciplines. The Commission would be tasked with identifying promising opportunities and ideas in fundamental, translational, and applied sciences and epidemiology not currently being prioritized by the public and private sectors, but which hold true promise in ending breast cancer once and for all. It will implement strategies to leverage these opportunities and maximize prior investments in this area.
The Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act would not duplicate the efforts of other government agencies and programs, but instead help ensure our nation’s limited research dollars are funding the most promising science in the area of breast cancer. Working in this way, and building on the decades of this nation's investment and achievement in breast cancer research, we could significantly further our efforts to end breast cancer deaths and learn how to prevent the disease within the next decade.
NBCC asks Members of Congress to co-sponsor and support the passage of the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act. Currently H.R 3067 has over 50 co-sponsors.
For more information on this or NBCC’s other legislative priorities, please contact Dana Richter, NBCC Director of Government Relations at drichter@BreastCancerDeadline2020.org or (202) 973-0595 or refer to NBCC’s website at www.BreastCancerDeadline2020.org.