Sunday, August 21, 2011

Before Forty Expands It's Message to African-American Women

The No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation's Before Forty Initiative has been working tirelessly on informing young, African-American women about their increased risk of developing the more aggressive type of breast cancer known as Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Not only do we advocate baseline screening should begin BEFORE the age of forty, a new study has shed light on another way to fight this disease from striking African-American women.

The study appeared here

African-American women who do not breastfeed their babies face a higher risk of getting an aggressive form of breast cancer than their counterparts who nurse, said a US study on Tuesday.
The analysis found that women who had two or more children faced a 50 percent increased risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, one of the toughest kinds to treat.

But this higher risk was only present in women who did not breastfeed their children.
"African-American women are more likely to have had a greater number of full-term births and less likely to have breast-fed their babies," said Julie Palmer, professor of epidemiology at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.

"This study shows a clear link between that and hormone receptor-negative breast cancer."
Data for the research, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, came from the Black Women's Health Study which has followed 59,000 women since 1995.

From 1995 to 2009, researchers found 457 cases of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and 318 cases of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer among study participants.
Among those diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer, which also tends to occur more frequently in white women, there was no link to the number of children a woman had and whether or not she breastfed.

"Our results, taken together with recent results from studies of triple negative and basal-like breast cancer, suggest that breastfeeding can reduce risk of developing the aggressive, difficult-to-treat breast cancers that disproportionately affect African-American women," Palmer said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 35 percent of white women in the United States are breastfeeding their babies at six months of age compared to 20 percent of black women.

Breast cancer is expected to kill nearly 40,000 people (39,520 women, 450 men) this year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. It is the second leading killer among women after lung cancer.

The No Surrender Take Home Message? Not only should screening begin at age 35 (or 30 for high risk women) but if you are a young, African-American mom, try to breast feed your baby for as long as possible.

Friday, August 19, 2011

About as Frightening As It Can Get

August 19, 2011

U.S. Scrambling to Ease Shortage of Vital Medicine

By GARDINER HARRIS/ The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Federal officials and lawmakers, along with the drug industry and doctors’ groups, are rushing to find remedies for critical shortages of drugs to treat a number of life-threatening illnesses, including bacterial infection and several forms of cancer.

The proposed solutions, which include a national stockpile of cancer medicines and a nonprofit company that will import drugs and eventually make them, are still in the early or planning stages. But the sense of alarm is widespread.

“These shortages are just killing us,” said Dr. Michael Link, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the nation’s largest alliance of cancer doctors. “These drugs save lives, and it’s unconscionable that medicines that cost a couple of bucks a vial are unavailable.” 

So far this year, at least 180 drugs that are crucial for treating childhood leukemia, breast and colon cancer, infections and other diseases have been declared in short supply — a record number.
Prices for some have risen as much as twentyfold, and clinical trials for some experimental cures have been delayed because the studies must also offer older medicines that cannot be reliably provided.

On Wednesday, Dianne Nomikos, 65, went to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a 9 a.m. appointment to receive Doxil, a vital medicine for her ovarian cancer. She was told to go home and wait until new supplies arrived. 

“My life is in jeopardy,” she said through tears in a telephone interview. “Without the drug, who knows what’s going to happen to me?”

The Obama administration is considering creating a government stockpile of crucial cancer medicines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already stockpile antibiotics, antidotes and other drugs needed in the event of a terrorist attack or earthquake.

Under one plan, the government would store the dry ingredients for cancer drugs and, in the face of a shortage, distribute them to hospitals, where pharmacists could mix them into injectable compounds.
Dr. Richard Schilsky, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said the number of cancers diagnosed in a year was easy to predict. “So we ought to be able to make a pretty good estimate of the grams required to treat every patient in the country in any given year,” he said.

Legislation proposed in both the House and the Senate would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to demand that drug makers give early warnings of possible supply disruptions. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, said the idea behind the bipartisan bill came after she found that the agency had prevented 38 shortages last year after getting early alerts of problems at drug makers.

“I can’t say the drug companies are excited” about the proposed legislation, she said in an interview. “But we need to give the F.D.A. more time.”

A group of leading oncologists has started a not-for-profit drug company that it hopes will soon be able to import supplies of some of the missing medicines. The company will eventually manufacture the drugs itself, according to Dr. George Tidmarsh, a pediatric oncologist and biotechnology entrepreneur who will lead it. 

“We have a meeting with the F.D.A. next week,” Dr. Tidmarsh said. “This unfolding tragedy must stop, and right now.”

More than half the recent shortages have resulted because government or company inspectors found problems like microbial contamination that can be lethal on injection. Others have occurred because of capacity problems at drug plants or lack of interest because of low profits, according to the F.D.A. 

Doxil, the cancer drug Ms. Nomikos needs, is made by Johnson & Johnson. Monica Neufang, a company spokeswoman, said, “Our third-party manufacturer has had some manufacturing issues related to capacity.”

Heather Bresch, president of the generic drug giant Mylan, says the shortages grow out of a sweeping consolidation of the generic drug industry into a few behemoths that compete only on price and have foreign plants that are rarely inspected.

“The race to the bottom has led to an increase of products coming from plants in China and India that may have uncertain supply and may have never been inspected,” Ms. Bresch said. “If the F.D.A. was required to inspect foreign drug plants at the same rate it does domestic ones, we might not have so many of these shortages.” 

Ms. Bresch has helped to broker an agreement that would require the industry to pay $299 million a year for increased inspections of foreign drug plants, a deal that must be approved by Congress and one she says will prevent some shortages.

Top government officials have held a blizzard of meetings in recent weeks to tackle the shortage issue, and more are expected over the next month — including a public advisory meeting at the F.D.A. and hearings in Congress.

“Drug shortages represent a pressing public health issue, and we are actively working to understand the causes, the full scope of the problem in the U.S. and internationally, and possible solutions,” said Dr. Howard K. Koh, an assistant secretary for health.

A crucial problem is disconnection between the free market and required government regulation. Prices for many older medicines are low until the drugs are in short supply; then prices soar. But these higher prices do little to encourage more supply, because it can be difficult and expensive to overcome the technical and regulatory hurdles. And if supplies return to normal, prices plunge. 

Executives at Premier, a hospital buying cooperative, said that in April and May its members received hundreds of offers from obscure drug wholesalers to sell drugs in short supply at vastly inflated prices. Of the 636 offers that included a price, 45 percent were at least 10 times the normal rate and 27 percent were at least 20 times normal.

Such sales offers are legal as long as suppliers prove that they bought the drugs appropriately. Some wholesalers buy certain drugs in large quantities because they are betting there will be a shortage. The excessive buying can help make their predictions come true. “We never like to see a situation where people can profit off of a national crisis and engage in price gouging,” Mike Alkire, Premier’s chief operating officer, said in an interview.

Joyce Burke, 47, of Mooresville, N.C., has breast cancer and is worried that she might not be able to get Taxol, which is in short supply. A drug that might have been substituted for Taxol has a side effect that leads some patients to lose their fingernails.

“I was not looking forward to losing my fingernails,” she said.

On Thursday, she received her first dose of Taxol, and her doctor said he had secured enough of the drug to give her a second dose in a little more than a week. She will need four doses to complete the treatment.

“And I asked, ‘What happens if you can’t find the rest?’ ” Ms. Burke said. “It’s not nearly as effective if you switch drugs midway through.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Come Celebrate With Us

On Saturday, October 1, 2011 the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation is kicking off “breast cancer awareness month” with a look back at famous survivors over the centuries while celebrating women living with breast cancer today. To help set the theme, they will host their second annual “There & Back: A Celebration of Survival” at Christ’s Church in Oyster Bay. This historic church was where Teddy Roosevelt worshiped with his family. His eldest daughter, Alice, was a fashion icon, writer, designer, trendsetter and known for her indomitable spirit. She was also a breast cancer survivor. Alice Roosevelt Longworth embodies the No Surrender spirit and the party is a tribute to this incredible woman.

The event will feature the Warrior Angel Survivor Models, stunning women who are all breast cancer survivors. They will be modeling vintage fashions that reflect the clothing worn by famous survivors over the years such as Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Hattie McDaniel, Betty Ford, Myrna Loy, Shirley Horn, Jennifer Jones, Rosalind Russell, Julia Child, and Nabby Adams, John Adam’s daughter who underwent a mastectomy without anesthesia 200 years ago, on October 8, 1811.

Starting from Nabby Adam’s experience, there will be a retrospective of the tremendous strides made in breast cancer surgery. What was once a disfiguring ordeal, has now become a work of art in the hands of this year’s recipient of the Alice Roosevelt Longworth Award and the gala’s Medical Honoree, Dr. Ron Israeli. Dr. Israeli has changed the lives of thousands of women through his incredible surgical talent. His empathy and unparalleled support of his patients makes the difficult journey through breast cancer a hopeful and positive experience. This is what the NSBCF strives to impart to its members and visitors. Many of Dr. Israeli’s patients are the models who make up the Warrior Angel Survivor Models.

The Foundation is privileged to announce that Miss Elizabeth Roosevelt is the Co-Honoree. A lifelong Oyster Bay resident, art historian, avid sailor and wonderful photographer, she will represent the Roosevelt family, and present the Alice Roosevelt Longworth Award to Dr. Israeli.

The party begins at 7 PM at Christ’s Church, 55 East Main Street, Oyster Bay and tickets are $100 each and $75 for those under the age of 29.

The No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation is a 501 (C) (3) not for profit organization that helps women through their breast cancer from diagnosis to life post treatment. Their Before Forty Initiative raises awareness of the risk faced by young, African American women of developing Triple Negative Breast Cancer and is working ensure they get early baseline screening, before the age of forty, to find this aggressive type of cancer before it has a chance to spread. Their informative, comprehensive website is

Sponsorships and Journal participation is available. For more information about this event. For more information, contact us at nosurrenderevents NSBCF, PO Box 84, Locust Valley, NY 11560