Breast Cancer Prevention

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time to remember all those who have become a victim of the disease, but it is also a time to look to the future and how to prevent the disease all together.

The UW Cancer Center Wausau Hospital is taking part in a national study to prevent breast cancer. It is called, STAR(Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene).

The study will compare two drugs that have both shown promise in preventing cancer.

Tomoxifen is currently being used as a treatment for breast cancer. Raloxifene is actually used to prevent osteoporosis.

"This study will look head to head at whether one is more effective than the other as preventing breast cancer," said Beth Knetter, a research nurse at the UW Cancer Center.

The study will also look at the side effects of each drug.

Woman who are interested in taking part in STAR much be at high risk for breast cancer, and post menopausal 35 years or older.

For more information you can contact the UW Cancer Center Wausau Hospital at 715-847-2353. Extended Web Coverage

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  • October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • The third Friday in October is National Mammography Day

Past Accomplishments

  • Death rates from breast cancer showed their first significant decline between 1989 and 1995, dropping 1.6 percent each year. Between 1995 and 1998, the decrease accelerated to a decline of 3.5 percent annually. The largest decreases occurred in younger women, both African American and Caucasian. These improvements are probably due to earlier detection and improved treatment.

  • In 1987, 25 percent of women age 50 and older reported having a mammogram and clinical breast examination (CBE) in the preceding 2 years. That number increased to 69 percent in 1998, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

  • Similar improvements occurred for women age 40 and older. In 1989, 54 percent of women age 40 and older reported having a mammogram within the last 2 years. In 1999, that number had increased to 71 percent, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

  • In 1990, the U.S. Congress authorized the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create this country’s first national program of screening – for breast and cervical cancers. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) has provided more than 3 million mammograms and diagnosed over 10,000 cases of breast cancer. Nearly half of all screening tests were for women of racial and ethnic minorities. Programs exist in all 50 states, 6 U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 12 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations.

  • In 1992, Congress established the Mammography Quality Standards Act, requiring all mammography facilities to meet quality criteria in order to operate.

  • Federal funding for breast cancer research has grown 600 percent, from $92.7 million in 1991 to $660 million in 1999.

  • Nine states have enacted laws that enable taxpayers to make a designation on their income tax forms to contribute to breast cancer research or screening and education programs within the state.

  • In 1985, only two states, Illinois and Virginia, required that health insurers cover the cost of screening mammograms. As of 2001, all but two states (Utah and Wyoming) require insurance coverage. In addition, several states require insurers to cover post-mastectomy breast reconstruction and/or cover chemotherapy and/or bone marrow transplants. Others provide for a specified length of stay in the hospital following breast cancer surgery.

  • In 1998, six years after its inception, the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial showed that Tamoxifen could help reduce the incidence of breast cancer among the high-risk participants. (See the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Sept. 16, 1998.)

Source: (National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Web site) contributed to this report.

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