Breast cancer knows no age, gender, race or socio-economic status. As the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall, it remains a fact of life. Nearly 1.7 million women around the globe were diagnosed in 2013, and incidence rates are on the rise.
That's because breast cancer has no boundaries. It is the leading cause of cancer death in the world's poorest countries and the second leading cause of cancer death in American women. We know that it can occur even where there is no family history or warning signs. And in the developing world, we are seeing higher mortality rates than ever before due to a lack of screening services and access to treatment, while here at home we are seeing disparities as social and economic factors create barriers to properly diagnosis and care.
If we do not put a stop to this epidemic, 13 million people will lose their lives to breast cancer in the next 25 years. That prognosis, however, does not have to become our reality. At the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), we know how to bring an end to cancer. The answer? Research.
Research -- and research alone -- has the power to be the end of breast cancer. Investing in research produces results. It's just that simple. Thanks to the tireless efforts of physicians and scientists, many of which BCRF funds, we have learned more about breast cancer -- and all cancers, in fact -- in the past two decades than in the last 500 years. Research is revolutionizing our understanding of cancer, leading us to the core of this insidious disease and transforming lives every day as women and men get the help they need.
Since 1993, BCRF has raised more than half a billion dollars for research that is changing the very definition of cancer. We support more than 220 scientists across six continents who have spent more than 8,657,920 hours working on solutions to one of the world's greatest problems. Just as science is built upon evidence, our research continues to deliver results.
Because of our award-winning researchers, we know more about cancer's origins than ever before. Their efforts led to the discovery of breast cancer stem cells, the very "roots" of the disease, allowing them to find ways to target these cells to prevent breast cancer progression and metastasis. They have also advanced our understanding of the inheritable risk of breast cancer, from discoveries about BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations to the creation of the world's most comprehensive database of breast cancer genes. The more our scientists discover about these genes, the better doctors will be able to predict who is at risk and what can be done to prevent cancer's onset.
Our teams of scientists have uncovered that breast cancer is not one, but several diseases, each of which develops, progresses and responds to therapies differently. They are now learning that the major subtypes can be further classified, opening the door to more personalized treatment plans. By understanding that every cancer is as unique as each patient, our scientists helped to abolish one-size-fits-all treatment. Their research has led to the development of precision medicine and individualized therapies, resulting in better, more effective treatments and fewer side effects. One of the most exciting areas under investigation right now is immunotherapy, which harnesses our immune system to block tumor growth. The studies shepherded by BCRF's scientific advisors are laying the groundwork for targeted therapies to enhance immune response and the development of vaccines to use in combination with other therapies to improve treatment outcomes and prevent metastasis.
Nothing is more important today in cancer medicine than understanding and circumventing metastasis, or the spread of cancer. To accelerate advances in this under-researched area, BCRF dedicated $27 million to launch the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder's Fund, an international, multi-year collaboration focused on dissecting the molecular basis of metastasis. Our investigators are working diligently to uncover why certain breast cancers spread or recur and testing promising new combination therapies to treat advanced breast cancer.
BCRF has been committed to advancing the world's most promising research for the past two decades because these are the ideas that turn into action. To us, progress means making discoveries in the lab that will have a meaningful impact on breast cancer patients today as well as tomorrow. Research will be the end of breast cancer, and everyone has the power to play a role in eradicating the disease.
This October, as well as throughout the year, BCRF invites you to #BeTheEnd. Be the end of fear. Be the end of hospital visits. Be the end of side effects and needless suffering. Be the end of loss. Whether you host a fundraiser, make a donation to BCRF, or just help us raise awareness of the necessity of research, you are making an impact in the fight against breast cancer when you support our mission of funding research.
Until the number of deaths from breast cancer is zero, we will not stop. Join us, and help fuel the research needed today to save lives tomorrow. Everyone can be part of the solution. We are all part of the cure.