Breast Cancer: Prevention or Early Detection??

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October 16, 2014 by Dr. Sana Keller

It’s hard to miss the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Yet, the more I read in bc4newspapers, magazines and online–and the more I see on billboards, television and the retail world, there seems to be a growing misconception being promoted that ‘The first step in breast cancer awareness is early detection.’ I beg to differ! Believing that the first step is early detection is a basic assumption that we (speaking from a woman’s perspective) are all going to develop breast cancer at some point, so the focus is on ‘catching it early’ so that treatment can begin.

First Step Logo web sizeI am all for early detection, but the first step in breast cancer awareness is Prevention (not early detection)! Prevention tends not to get much ‘press’ or emphasis, due in part, I believe, to the fact that disease prevention is not a typical profit center that insurance reimburses.

I’m guessing that each of you reading this has either been personally impacted by breast cancer—or someone you know and love has been impacted. To those of you having gone through or currently in the midst of such a challenge, please accept my heartfelt sympathy. I’m also guessing that most of you have also contributed to a breast cancer foundation in honor or memory of loved ones. I have as well, although I am much more ‘picky’ about the organizations that I choose since I personally believe that the prevention of breast cancer is the key to finally turning the tide on breast cancer incidence and the impact it has on our lives.

• Although the incidence of breast cancer declined from 1999 to 2005, the incidence rates of breast graphcancer since 2005 have been relatively stable (for roughly the past 10 years). Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently projected that the overall breast cancer incidence rate (rate of occurrence) will stay the same through 2016.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 as a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical whose pharmaceutical arm, Zeneca is now part of AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of Tamoxifen and other cancer drugs. (More info on ACS below.)
• The NCI directed > $600,000,000 to breast cancer research in 2012. The Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research program funded grants totally > $98,000,000 in 2012. That’s just one year—and these amounts are less than prior year.
• Private philanthropy provides a significant amount of funding for breast cancer research as well, with the dollarSusan G. Komen awarding $42,000,000 in grants in 2013. These million-dollar figures were included to point to the fact that a huge amount of funding has been poured into breast cancer research effort for many years with little change in the incidence rates.

POPULAR NONPROFIT BREAST CANCER ORGANIZATIONS:                                                 Below are some of the most popular breast cancer nonprofit organizations along with their Charity Navigator rating (1 Star: lowest rating to 4 Star: highest/best rating). Charity Navigator is the most respected charity rating agency with a mission to guide intelligent giving with a goal of advancing a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome the nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges. I also included associated CEO salaries over $1 million annually. Hopefully this information will be of assistance in your decisions for future donations. I know it has impacted mine.

Breast Cancer Research Foundation: (BCRF) A nonprofit organization committed to achieving bcrfprevention and a cure for breast cancer. They provide critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship.  Charity Navigator: 4 Stars

National Breast Cancer Foundation: (NBCF) Their mission is to help women now by providing help and ABEE Hosted Buyer eventinspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education (focused on early detection) and support services. They offer free screening mammograms to uninsured women.  Charity Navigator: 4 Stars

Living Beyond Breast Cancer: (LBBC) Their mission is to provide information and lbcc logosupport to individuals diagnosed with breast cancer and their caregivers. They address the current needs of people impacted by breast cancer, whether they are newly diagnosed, in treatment, recovery, living with a history of breast cancer or managing a metastatic form of the disease.  Charity Navigator: 4 Stars

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation: Their mission is to create a future without breast cancer by susan love logofocusing on the cause and prevention. They identify needs and determine how these needs can be quickly met, not by emulating existing nonprofit organizations but by designing a new model specific to the tasks at hand.  Charity Navigator: 4 Stars

Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Race for the Cure): Their mission is to save lives and end breast cancer komenforever by empowering others, ensuring quality care for all and investing in science to find the cures. Their focus is on screening and early detection. CEO + President’s Salary: Over $1 Million annually.  Charity Navigator: 3 Stars

Breast Cancer Fund: The Breast Cancer Fund is working to shift the conversation from awareness to bcf2prevention. They are working to stop this disease before it starts. They ask for pledges to go beyond the pink to prevention. Their mission: The Breast Cancer Fund works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.  Charity Navigator: 2 Stars

American Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) Their mission is to provide financial assistance for breast abcfcancer screenings and diagnostic tests for uninsured and underserved individuals, regardless of age or gender.  Charity Navigator: 1 Star

American Cancer Society: (ACS) I realize this is not breast cancer specific but was surprised by the information and wanted to share. Annual ACS revenues (income) are close to $1 acfBillion and expenditures (expenses) are $672 Million with $488 Million in salaries and benefits alone. 16% or less of money raised is spent on direct cancer patient services. CEO Salary: Over $2 Million annually.  Charity Navigator: 2 Stars    

EXTRA BONUS: The following 2 nonprofit organizations are newer and do not have ratings on Charity Navigator at this point. I appreciate their focus on education and working with the younger generation!

Boarding 4 Breast Cancer: (B4BC) Early Detection + Active Lifestyle = BEST Prevention. B4BC is dedicated to providing education, prevention and support programs for young people and the action b4bc-logosports community at large. Through grassroots events, year-round educational outreach and the Survivorship Fund, B4BC is able to further its mission of promoting early detection + a healthy, active lifestyle as the best means of breast cancer prevention. They promote 7 Steps to Stomp Out Breast Cancer which include healthy eating and regular exercise as 2 of the 7 steps.


Keep A Breast: (KAB) The Keep A Breast Foundation is the leading youth-focused, global, nonprofit kabbreast cancer organization with a mission to eradicate breast cancer for future generations. They provide support programs for young people impacted by cancer and educate people about prevention, early detection, and cancer-causing toxins in our everyday environment. Their focus: Prevention is the Cure!

AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF PINK, you may want to reconsider a pink NFL purchase after reading this…

NFL’s Pink October: The NFL donates 5% of online sales from the NFL Shop to the American Cancer Society (ACS). NONE of the funds raised are donated to breast cancer research or breast cancer prevention. If you’re buying any pink products from the official shop, the wholesaler, distributor, and retailer give 0 % of their shares to ACS. The only portion that goes to the society is the NFL’s royalty percentage from wholesale sales.

Thank you for reading. Please share this information with others…so that we can make the greatest impact possible in fighting breast cancer.

Sana Keller, PhD, RN   Cancer Survivor Coach & Healthy Lifestyle Coach

Photo credits:,,,,,,,,,,,,

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