National Breast Cancer Awareness Month as relevant as ever

A Los Angeles Times story on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month strongly suggests that the program has outlived its usefulness and that AstraZeneca supports such disease awareness campaigns to increase sales of our medicines.

The first claim is not supported by the facts and the second is false.

As evidence of the awareness campaign’s lack of effectiveness, the story notes that 110 American women now die each day from breast cancer – down only slightly from 117 deaths per day in 1991.

Other breast cancer statistics tell a different story. In 1991, the mortality rate for women with breast cancer was 32.6 percent. That had fallen to 22.8 percent in 2007, according to the most recent data available from the National Cancer Institute.

As a supporter of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, AstraZeneca does not suggest that the decrease in mortality is due solely to that program. Instead, these improvements can be attributed to awareness efforts coupled with improved therapy and more effective diagnostic tools, as noted by the New England Journal of Medicine last month.

These concepts – awareness, detection and treatment, along with the growing and important emphasis on prevention – are working hand in hand to save lives.

In addition to supporting awareness programs,  AstraZeneca has invested significant amounts in search of cures and new treatments for cancer.  A 2008 report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America found that America’s pharmaceutical research companies were testing 750 new compounds to treat cancer.

Until the day comes when breast cancer can be eradicated, AstraZeneca will continue to search for cures and effective treatments, and we will continue to support important groundbreaking educational campaigns like National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

- By Tony Jewell

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