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Avon Foundation Convened Breast Cancer Experts in Miami to Address Prevention Strategies at Annual Forum

2009 Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Forum Focuses on Research & Strategies in the 21st Century

NEW YORK, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 100 scientists and clinicians from the U.S., Mexico, and Europe joined together in Miami, FL to discuss the latest in breast cancer research and prevention at the Avon Foundation's annual Breast Cancer Forum, which was sponsored this year by Novartis Oncology, sanofi-aventis U.S., and GE Healthcare. For two days, they shared ideas, challenged results, and engaged in lively discussions on research techniques, methods and strategies for the critical issue of breast cancer prevention in the 21st century. Presentations encompassed a broad spectrum of issues, from breast cancer disparities between Caucasian and black and Hispanic women to new prevention research, risk-reduction strategies and the application of disease biomarkers. The purpose of this annual Avon Foundation Forum is to foster collaboration among individuals and institutions, share best practices and disseminate the most recent breast cancer research data to expedite the eradication of breast cancer.

A few highlights from the presentations, all of which are funded by the Avon Foundation, include:

  • Dr. Steve Whitman, Director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute in Chicago, who was representing the breakthrough Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, presented the newest data on black:white disparities in breast cancer. Among the achievements since the initial study results were released in 2007, the Task Force was able to mobilize Chicagoland voters to help pass legislation granting free mammograms to all uninsured women.

  • Dr. Dora Cavallo-Medved, Assistant Professor (research) Wayne State University in Michigan presented new data on biomarkers in inflammatory breast cancer, IBC. While IBC is a rare form of the disease in the U.S., it is also the most aggressive form, advancing rapidly while not responding to traditional therapies. IBC is more commonly diagnosed in women in the Middle East and Egypt. Dr. Cavallo-Medved shared with other attendees that her research identified key genes that may be new targets for therapeutic development.

  • Dr. Gail Sonenshein, Professor of Biochemistry, Boston University showcased new information on the role of environmental carcinogens in breast cancer as well as risk reduction strategies. Dr. Sonenshein studied exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which come from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, polluted air or water, cigarette smoke and charcoal broiled foods. Her research identified that green tea (EGCG) helps prevent the PAH carcinogen-induced invasive phenotype of breast cancer cells, making her work one of the most detailed molecular characterizations of how green tea may be an effective risk-reduction strategy for breast cancer prevention.

"This year, our Breast Cancer Forum focused on creating networking and sharing opportunities to open dialogue about prevention, treatment, and the main issues in breast cancer," said Dr. Marc Hurlbert, Director, Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. "When we help facilitate collaboration among doctors, clinicians, and researchers, they can directly learn from each other and we move even closer to understanding and ultimately preventing this disease."

"It was an incredible experience to meet colleagues who study different aspects of breast cancer," said Dr. Whitman. "What we are looking at in access disparities is directly affected by what my colleagues are doing with biomarker research, parity research, and more. We are so thankful to the Avon Foundation for organizing this group."

Another presenter, Dr. Sara Sukumar, Professor, Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, noted that "the Avon Foundation is breaking traditional paradigms in research, first, by providing funds to support key, under-funded areas of research, and then by fostering collaboration by bringing small groups of scientists working in the same area together to share preliminary data, discuss research design and methods, and the obstacles to their success. We return to our research with fresh ideas and approaches to more rapidly advance our understanding of breast cancer."

About The Avon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was launched in 1955 with a single scholarship of $400 and has grown to be a leader in the breast cancer and domestic violence causes worldwide. Through 2008, Avon philanthropy has raised and awarded more than $660 million in over 50 countries in support of the mission to improve the lives of women globally. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade launched in 1992 and focuses on advancing access to care for all, regardless of ability to pay, and eradicating breast cancer. Funds are awarded for breast cancer education and awareness; screening and diagnosis; access to treatment; support services; and medical research. The Speak Out Against Domestic Violence initiative was launched in 2004, focusing on awareness, education, direct service programs and prevention, and in 2009 will support initiatives in more than 50 countries. More information, including free printable breast cancer and domestic violence literature, can be found at

SOURCE The Avon Foundation
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