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First Lady Laura Bush's Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research extends to Panama

Panama City, Panama - The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center marked the beginning of a collaborative effort to eradicate breast cancer in Panama through the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas today at an event with Laura Bush, the First Lady of the United States, and Vivian Fernndez de Torrijos, the First Lady of Panama.

Joining M. D. Anderson in the initiative are the U.S. Department of State and Susan G. Komen for the Cure who are working closely with the First Lady of Panama to finalize the partnership, which currently brings together leading medical experts and breast cancer awareness advocates in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Panama. According to the Panamanian Ministry of Health, more than 25 percent of Panama's population of 3.3 million is comprised of women over 40 years old and is at a greater risk of developing the disease since risk increases with age.

First announced by Mrs. Laura Bush in July 2007, the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas is designed to increase early breast cancer detection and reduce related deaths in the region through improved awareness, clinical resources and world-class research. The Partnership is facilitated by the U.S. Department of State and is initiated and implemented locally by participating countries. M. D. Anderson serves as the Partnership's lead medical adviser.

In Panama, the Partnership will offer the opportunity to advance new and existing initiatives focused on reducing the burden of breast cancer. Collaborative efforts in the areas of research, capacity-building and women's empowerment will be promoted.

Representatives from M. D. Anderson, Susan G. Komen For the Cure and the U.S. State Department joined Mrs. Laura Bush and Mrs. Vivian Fernndez de Torrijos to announce the initiative at an event held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Panama City.

"Breast cancer continues to have a tremendous impact on women in Panama, despite good efforts to raise awareness of early detection and prevention," said Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology, who represented M. D. Anderson at the announcement in Panama City. "By working collectively to advance awareness, research, training and community outreach, we can change attitudes and behaviors about breast cancer which will in turn save lives."

A team of 33 M. D. Anderson scientists and physicians serve on an advisory board for the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas and oversee the contribution of medical and public education resources to the initiative. M. D. Anderson has committed to making available its extensive library of educational materials on a broad spectrum of topics related to breast cancer, much of which is available in Spanish. In addition, M. D. Anderson will explore opportunities to develop specific satellite educational programs on breast cancer topics for the medical community and offer its faculty and staff as a resource to medical personnel in Panama.

John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of M. D. Anderson said, "We are pleased to have the opportunity to extend our work with the Partnership to Panama. Mrs. Fernndez de Torrijos is commended for her dedication and commitment to reducing breast cancer and her efforts to engage the Partnership for the benefit of women in Panama, across Latin America and around the world."

To date, M. D. Anderson has established academic and educational relationships with 25 premier cancer centers around the world, and partnered with the Department of State on a similar breast cancer initiative in the Middle East formed in 2006.


Contact: Robyn Stein
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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