A Southern California man has a dream that in the not too distant future breast cancer will become one less thing for women to worry about, and he is doing something about it.
Kevin Morton, the founder of a new non-profit organization, The Foundation for Breast Cancer Prevention in Irvine, believes his new model for breast cancer prevention will not only open up vast new discovery about the disease that currently plagues 1-in-8 women, but will lower the number of newly-diagnosed cases.
The Foundation for Breast Cancer Prevention seeks to establish a national network of breast cancer teams that can share data, clinical services and prevention programs so that collaboration can occur and new prevention programs can be accelerated in hospitals across the country. Based on the heart disease model, Morton's goal is to move breast cancer from a “diagnose-and-treat” disease to one that is screened for and prevented.
The current understanding and treatment of breast cancer today is where heart disease was 20 years ago, says Morton. At that time a patient would wait until he or she had chest pains, or worse, a heart attack, and then would be treated. By finding risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol through screening and treating the patient before they have a heart attack, the death rate from heart disease dropped more than 40 percent.
“The key to preventing breast cancer is screening beyond mammograms to find women who are at high risk of developing the disease — before they develop cancer. Once we can identify these women, there are several possible interventions that can stop breast cancer from forming,” said Morton, a former medical device inventor. “In women with certain risk factors there are already medications that can actually stop up to 86% of women from developing breast cancer in the first place.”
The epiphany for the foundation came to Morton during his many business visits with physicians. “I had to ask myself, why isn’t anyone doing anything when the medical community knows so much about risk and that breast cancer is a preventable disease.”
The answer was clear. While great strides have been made to treat breast cancer, gaps exist in current breast cancer prevention efforts creating a vacuum. For instance, there is currently a lack of consensus of what breast density is standard for risk, a lack of resources to reach high-risk and under-served women for screening before they are diagnosed with the disease, and no network to share information between the many physicians involved in women's breast health for a multi-discipline and coordinated approach.
“No other organizations, public or private, are working on a strategic approach to developing an integrated strategy working with medical, legislative and patient communities focusing on breast cancer prevention. I knew I had to do it. I have 25 years of experience building organizations in the medical field, and am excited to be developing this effort,” Morton said.
By bringing together a consensus coalition of primary care physicians, radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, oncologists, geneticists and other experts to help set guideline standards, Morton sees a future where new strategic options will be available to help educated the medical community and women alike, allowing them to take more control in preventing breast cancer.
Morton says breast cancer risk factors are currently frequently overestimated or underestimated.
“Women that underestimate their risk often say that they don’t have any history in their family. The facts are that up to 75 percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family histories of the disease. Then, women with a family history tend to overestimate their risk. As such, too many women are confused about risk factors and worry unnecessarily or are completely caught off guard when breast cancer might have been prevented," he said. "There are many risk factors that are far more significant than family history and we want women to be educated in their decision-making processes so they can make choices the are best for them.”
For more information, visit http://www.foundationforbcprevention.org/home.html
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning journalist who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues, she writes a blog, Nonsmoking Nation, which follows global tobacco news and events.