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A decade dedicated to breast cancer care advocacy garners ASCO Award for researcher

SEATTLE Benjamin Anderson, M.D., a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and director of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's Breast Health Clinic, is the 2011 recipient of the Partners in Progress award given by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The award recognizes a person involved in activities that impact public awareness about cancer, its causes, cures or treatment, or activities that support either legislatively or fiscally cancer research, treatment, prevention or care. Anderson received the award for his commitment to women throughout the world and his efforts to improve their quality of care. He has devoted his clinical practice to the care of patients with breast cancer and breast health issues.

Anderson was formally presented the award June 6 during the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago.

For the past decade, Anderson has been a leading voice in the international breast cancer clinical improvement and best practices movement through the establishment of the Hutchinson Center-based Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI), a global alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving health outcomes of medically underserved women. Co-sponsored by the Hutchinson Center and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, BHGI has pioneered development of comprehensive resource-sensitive, evidence-based clinical guidelines to improve breast cancer outcomes in low- and middle-resource countries.

"A multi-disciplinary approach to breast cancer early detection, diagnosis and treatment works through clinical, evidence-based guidelines, but in the United States, we begin with the assumption that we have all the tools," said Anderson. "In low- and middle-resource countries and other regions worldwide where women are medically underserved, our guidelines fundamentally do not apply."

Anderson, who is also a University of Washington School of Medicine professor of surgery and global health medicine, founded BHGI in 2002 in an effort to address the lack of appropriate global breast health guidelines. BHGI's work involves evaluating existing resources and engaging advocates as well as clinicians to implement changes in beliefs and practices. Over nearly a decade, through its global alliance of organizations, BHGI held four global summits to create and publish resource-adapted guidelines, and to investigate how these guidelines might be applied in practice. In the process, BHGI created an international, interactive hub for linkages and alliances, providing a common network for clinicians and governmental health care agencies, advocacy and non-governmental organizations, non-profit and for-profit organizations, public health researchers and other key groups to work together to advance systematic change.

Anderson says that patient advocates are critical to improving cancer outcomes.

"There is an essential relationship between the medical community and the advocacy community," he said. "On the medical side, you want to find the disease as early as possible with the resources you have and give stage-appropriate multidisciplinary treatment. This only works if the women participate. Once you begin having survivors, those survivors are able to communicate with other women about why they should participate in ways that the medical community cannot. Ultimately, it's the advocates that create awareness and awareness makes this go forward."

Anderson said he is deeply honored is to receive the Partners in Progress award and views it as a statement of responsibility to ensure that through on-going international collaborations with organizations, such as ASCO, and with individuals, that his global work meets the needs of all women who are medically underserved.


Contact: Dean Forbes
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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