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Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Norris Cotton Cancer Center Host Breast Cancer Leadership Summit

November 6, 2007

Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to host a Leadership Summit on Breast Cancer at Dartmouth Hitchcock's Lebanon campus. The summit was the thirteenth of 25 Komen Community Challenge events taking place around the nation, designed to bring together elected officials, breast cancer experts, advocates and survivors to share information, to raise awareness, and to mobilize support to make breast cancer research and treatment a high profile issue in the 2008 election.

Also attending the event were presidential candidate spouses Judith Giuliani and Elizabeth Kucinich who offered their views on what can be done, and must be done, from a policy perspective to improve care for cancer patients. Giuliani shared her experiences with her husband Rudy Giuliani's battle with prostate cancer in 2000. Kucinich, who has three family members who are breast cancer survivors, spoke of the need to reprioritize health care spending in the United States and to move toward a government-run single-payer model of care that would ensure access for everyone.

Current statistics show that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is estimated that by the end 2007 about 178,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States. Women living in North America have the highest rate of breast cancer in the world. Currently, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. Overall, breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women. In 2007, an estimated 40,460 women will die from breast cancer in the United States.

However, speakers said that, on the positive side, breast cancer survival rates continue to increase. The current five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 98 percent, and 80 percent for cancer that has spread just slightly beyond the region of the breast. In addition, better screening tools and treatments are making significant strides in improving survival rates.

"We've made enormous progress over the past 25 years, but there is still a great divide between what happens in the lab and what the patient can access," said Hala Moddelmog, Susan G. Komen for the Cure president and CEO. "There is exciting work taking place at institutions like Norris Cotton Cancer Center, but in order to find the cures for breast cancer, we need leaders who are committed to making the fight against breast cancer a national priority."

Among the more troubling current news on breast cancer were the statistics showing that low-income women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and are three times more likely to die from the disease. The reasons cited were a lack of screening and also because many of them had deferred care.