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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Advances in Research

The Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation is advancing research and knowledge on breast cancer.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and since one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to be not only proactive but informed about the disease. We support looking out for your “girls!” This month, we are taking a look at different aspects of breast cancer—from screening and diagnosis to prevention and treatment, from fundraising to supporting people you know battling the disease.

When you think of a breast cancer organization and its goals, the first thing that comes to mind is “finding a cure.” However, Dr. David Pearce, vice president and chief operating officer of Sanford Research, part of the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation (ESBCF), explains we shouldn’t simply be thinking about the big-picture end of cancer.

“The cool thing about research is when you ask a question, and then you apply yourself and get the results back—for the first time you are the only individual that has the answer to that question,” he says. “What makes you a good scientist is whether you ask the right questions and that’s really what successful research programs like we have are all about.”

ESBCF explores alternatives for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are not responding to conventional medicine (surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy). Dr. Pearce states, “Our philosophy is we need to find a clinical trial for each woman who is not responding to normal treatment.”

Clinical trials are extremely costly, but the answers that can come from them are extremely valuable. ESBCF budgets approximately $5 million a year toward research and each clinical trial itself costs $1.5 to 2 million.

One current trial focuses on weight loss and cancer. “We know that being overweight is one risk factor for developing cancer. Exercise also plays into a part of survivorship,” Dr. Pearce says. Not only does maintaining one’s shape help in prevention, but it can help a woman through the recovery process. Once the trial’s results are conclusive, Dr. Pearce expects to have more specific recommendations.

ESBCF breaks down research into four pillars: prevention, diagnostics, treatment and survivorship. While researchers and doctors have made great advancements in diagnostics and treatment, a lot more research is necessary to cure breast cancer. As Dr. Pearce points out, “Any healthcare organization is only as good as its outcomes.” ESBCF’s research mission is “to unlock each woman’s genetic code, advance today’s prevention and treatment, and end breast cancer for future generations.”

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