Five Ways You Can Support Breast Cancer Research Today
It’s estimated that among U.S. women there will be 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer in 2016 alone.* I’m certain we all know someone in our lives who’s been affected by this terrible disease and we often feel like there are few ways that we can truly be a part of the solution. I was delighted hear from Anna Maria Storniolo, MD, Director of the Komen Tissue Bank (KTB), at the Women’s Fund OPTIONS and Perspectives Year End Celebration, that there are countless ways to make a lasting impact in the fight against breast cancer.
In it’s near ten year existence, The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, is a one-of-a-kind organization trailblazing breast cancer research. The organization is focused on continuing normal tissue collection, increasing distribution samples, and facilitating groundbreaking research.
Indy’s Super Cure, held in 2012 in conjunction with Super Bowl XLVI, combined breast cancer research and football. Jennifer Pope Baker, Executive Director of Women’s Fund and member of Indy's Super Cure Committee shared: “Serving in this role was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. We used a football game to help bring people together to help change the face of breast cancer.” Focused on raising awareness, collecting money and collecting tissue, the Super Cure initiative helped the organization reach its 3,000th tissue donor in 2012.
Since that time, the KTB has reached 4,700 tissue donors and continues to be the only repository in the world for normal breast tissue and matched serum, plasma, and DNA. Dr. Storniolo and her team are actively seeking female donors of color (with a goal of 50 percent at each collection) and hold at least one tissue collection in Indianapolis and one out of state collection, focused on a diverse population, annually. The procedure from start to finish is less than an hour. The donor’s health information submitted is anonymized and all of the data collected is then stored in a virtual tissue bank. While most women note the procedure rarely hurts or is painless, they view the tiny incision scar as their badge of honor, courage, and bravery on behalf of all of those they know battling breast cancer.
Not only is the KTB the only entity in the world to collect and offer normal, high-quality, richly annotated tissue samples to scientists worldwide, they also only charge the mailing cost to the sample recipients. The organization also insists on keeping one core sample from every single woman.
By analyzing specimens donated by healthy women, the KTB studies breast cancer risk and susceptibility. Thanks to an automated system implemented in 2014, each year a donor receives an email asking to update her health information and if she has developed breast cancer. Amazingly, the team has approximately 50 percent response rate among tissue donors. The ultimate goal through KTB’s research facilitation is being able to find something that changes in the blood early enough to identify the risk of a woman developing breast cancer and to implement preventative measures. Support Komen Tissue Bank Today!
One of my favorite aspects of the Women’s Fund OPTIONS program is that it not only showcases community organizations supporting women and children, but it truly empowers each participant to become an active part of the solution. Here are five immediate ways to help increase knowledge and awareness in the fight against breast cancer:
- Donate Tissue: Join more than 4,700 women from around the country who have donated tissue at the next collection on Saturday, January 21.
- Volunteer: Visit the KTB website to learn how you can help make the collection on January 21 possible!
- Stay Connected: Become the first to know about special events, announcements and volunteer opportunities by subscribing to the KTB newsletter.
- Spread the Word: Join the conversation on your social channels and show your support by sharing announcements across your network by following @KomenTissueBank.
- Consider Making a Donation: KTB’s research is helping to save lives, and each contribution helps make the great work they do possible.
Visit komentissuebank.iu.edu for more information on opportunities to get involved today!
*American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2016. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2016.
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