Organization Funds Research Of Early Breast Cancer Detection Methods (dateline August 29, 2000)
Friends...You Can Count On is an independent, non-profit organization that raises funds and awards grants for the research of new and improved methods to help detect breast cancer early. The organization believes that by focusing attention on developing a reliable laboratory test that will detect breast cancer in the body before a tumor has formed, physicians will be able to successfully treat a few breast cancer cells rather than a life-threatening condition in many women.
Mammography is currently the gold standard in breast cancer detection. Mammography can help detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, often before a lump can be felt. While screening mammography has helped improve the breast cancer diagnostic process , breast cancer can grow for months or even years before it becomes large enough to be discovered by current detection methods. Friends would like to see more research devoted to developing methods for earlier breast cancer detection.
In helping to promote this research, Friends awards grants to independent researchers. Each proposal is reviewed by the Friends Medical Advisory Committee, which is made up of oncologists and other physicians that specialize in breast health. According to Friends, promising new research of blood markers and breast fluid may help to detect breast cancer earlier than current methods.
“I had no family history of breast cancer. I took very good care of myself,” said Martha Kaley, the founder of Friends…You Can Count On. “Three months following my annual screening mammography (which came back ‘clear’), I was wrestling with my chocolate lab, Sherlock. He scratched my chest. The next day, I felt something and immediately called my physician. This led to an exploratory surgery.
“As it happened, the mass I had been worried about was benign. However, additional exploration of my breast tissue led to the discovery of an undetected malignancy,” said Kaley.
While Friends enthusiastically supports current research that investigates new methods to treat breast cancer, the organization wants to fund separate research that will hopefully help to one day prevent many women from battling breast cancer.
According to Friends, an earlier means of detection will also help:
- Young women for whom screening mammography is not recommended
- African American women who die at higher rates from breast cancer due in part to later diagnoses
- Breast cancer survivors, who want to treat any recurrence at the earliest possible moment
- Women who currently have breast cancer but for whom the disease is too small at the moment to be detected by current methods
Friends enthusiastically accepts donations from individuals and corporations who wish to help fund research into earlier breast cancer detection methods. Recently, Dr. Mark Miller of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center received $1.4 million from the National Cancer Institute to continue his innovative research on breast cancer detection. Dr. Miller was among the first researchers to receive a seed grant from Friends. Friends has also awarded seed grants to researchers at Duke University Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, the Mayo Foundation, Georgetown University, and other centers.