The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) was formed in 1991 with one mission: to end breast cancer. NBCC has accomplished much over its 25 years, bringing about unprecedented research funding to the worldwide scientific community, forging new collaborations to design research and set priorities, expanding access to information and care to underserved women, and launching unparalleled training programs to prepare advocates around the globe to work side by side with scientists, policy makers and health care providers.
Yet breast cancer continues to take hundreds of thousands of lives each year. In 2012, more than 522,000 women worldwide died of breast cancer. In the United States alone, 40,290 women and 440 men will die of breast cancer this year. And breast cancer still kills almost as many Americans each year as it did 24 years ago. We lost 43,583 women to breast cancer in 1991 in the U.S. Mortality rates have decreased on average 1.9 percent per year from 1990 to 2011. That rate of decline shows no signs of increasing and it is even lower for African American women than white women. That kind of "progress" is unacceptable.
We launched Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 in September 2010 to infuse a renewed sense of urgency into the world of breast cancer and to figure out how to end breast cancer and save lives. Despite decades of awareness campaigns, expanding screening programs, and billions of dollars spent on research, incidence and mortality have not changed significantly. That is why we created the Deadline -- more of the same will not end breast cancer.
How will the Deadline campaign help us end breast cancer? By Jan. 1, 2020, we must understand how to prevent people from getting breast cancer in the first place and how to prevent them from dying from the disease. That knowledge and our plan of action will help us reach the goal of ending breast cancer.
NBCC has a plan to harness the energy, resources and leadership around the world to achieve Breast Cancer Deadline 2020, using three strategies: research needed to end breast cancer; global access to necessary information and lifesaving interventions; and the influence of leaders everywhere in the fight to end breast cancer.
Our research efforts are called The Artemis Project, which is a collaborative, advocate-led, deadline-driven approach working on two goals: primary prevention, or stopping women and men from getting breast cancer in the first place; and preventing metastasis, or stopping people from dying of breast cancer.
We facilitate collaboration in all areas and minimize unnecessary competition. We created a framework for stakeholders involved in research, particularly the scientific community, to work together to create synergies and develop partnerships to advance the pace of research.
We are also leveraging financial resources to harness existing research and catalyze innovation. The Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 campaign capitalizes on the investments made by our nation and others around the world that have resulted in the knowledge, tools and technologies needed to end breast cancer. The goal is to take what is known and build upon it for the sole purpose of ending the disease.
Under our leadership, the scientists, advocates and others involved in Artemis have created research plans in prevention of breast cancer and of metastasis. In 2012 and 2013, we awarded seed grants for researchers to begin their work looking at preventive vaccines. I am proud to say we are making important progress toward the goal of developing a preventive breast cancer vaccine.
We are developing a global strategy to ensure that individuals with, and at risk of, breast cancer have access to information, quality care and scientific advances. Finding the answers to prevention and saving lives will not end breast cancer until everyone, everywhere, has meaningful access to those answers. NBCC is bringing together stakeholders from around the world at all levels, from policy makers to grassroots advocates, and engaging them throughout the process to make certain that location, economic status, and societal factors are not barriers to access.
We are changing the conversation. Media, advocates, researchers, policy makers and others must be educated in order to shift the public dialogue about breast cancer away from awareness and screening to prevention and saving lives. We are working to ensure that leaders in government, industry and all areas embrace the deadline with courage and conviction and make ending this disease a priority.
To do this, we are mobilizing the breast cancer advocacy community. All those at risk -- and all who care about them -- must join a revolutionary activist movement with the goal of ending breast cancer.
Knowing how to end breast cancer by 2020 is achievable -- with the right amount of passion, leadership and funding. It will take all of us working together to change years of incremental progress and to close out this decade with unparalleled achievement. Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 is how we will help end breast cancer.
Will you join us?
To learn more about NBCC and Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 please visit www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org.