July Proclaimed Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thursday, June 29, 2017
The Tennessee General Assembly has proclaimed July as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Metastatic breast cancer, also known as advanced stage or stage IV breast cancer, affects thousands of families across Tennessee. This devastating stage of breast cancer occurs when cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body, including the bones, lungs, liver and brain, officials said.
State Senator Richard Briggs sponsored the resolution (SR38) to proclaim July as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
 Senator Briggs is a physician. 
“More than one in eight women in the U.S. will be affected by breast cancer in their lifetimes, and in Tennessee it is expected that nearly 40,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year,” Senator Briggs said. “This year, it is estimated that there will be nearly 250,000 new cases of female breast cancer in the U.S., and more than 5,000 new cases in Tennessee.” 
“We appreciate Senator Briggs and the Legislature for recognizing the importance of this issue and working to make more Tennesseans aware of and informed about metastatic breast cancer,” Jennifer Murray, president of the Tennessee Cancer Consortium, said. 
A survey of 2,000 American adults showed that more than 60 percent of respondents knew little to nothing about metastatic breast cancer, and 72 percent incorrectly believed that breast cancer in the advanced stages is curable if diagnosed early.
Statistics show that nearly 30 percent of women diagnosed with early breast cancer eventually will develop metastatic breast cancer.  These patients face additional challenges along with the fact that breast cancer can spread quickly to other parts of the body, regardless of the treatment or preventative measures taken.
The median survival after a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is approximately 3 years.  Survival times vary greatly from person to person, however, and some research indicates that up to 40 percent of women will survive 5 years after a diagnosis and possibly longer.  Metastatic breast cancer frequently involves trying multiple treatments and patients usually fluctuate in and out of remission.
More than 40,000 women across the country are expected to lose their battle with breast cancer this year.
For women over the age of 40, talking to their doctors about annual mammograms is also critically important because catching cancer early is helpful.
Currently no cure exists for metastatic breast cancer, however, extensive drug development efforts are underway to address this high unmet need.  Patients, family members and the public can find information about current clinical research studies at https://ClinicalTrials.gov, a searchable database. 
Tennesseans diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer are encouraged to speak with their physician to learn more about the disease, and they can find information about support groups and services in their community or online.

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