Collaboration: National Treatment Assistance Fund

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-GeneralThe costs of breast cancer treatment can impose a significant financial burden on survivors. The Susan G. Komen® National Treatment Assistance Fund helps bridge the gap for individuals who are actively undergoing breast cancer treatment.

The aim of the National Treatment Assistance Fund is to increase the number of individuals who remain in the breast cancer continuum of care by providing financial assistance to ensure adherence and completion of breast cancer treatment. Funding helps individuals of any age who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, at any stage of the disease.

The fund provides two types of financial assistance – assistance grants and co-pay – based upon need and eligibility requirements. This limited financial assistance program is currently administered by CancerCare and the co-pay program is currently administered by Patient Advocate Foundation.

Limited financial assistance grants of $300 are awarded to underinsured or uninsured individuals across the country in need of:

  • Pain and anti-nausea medication
  • Lymphedema support and supplies with a prescription
  • Durable medical equipment ordered by their physician
  • Transportation to and from treatment
  • Childcare and/or eldercare necessitated by treatment
  • Oral medication for cancer treatment

Co-Pay Relief up to $5000 is provided for insured patients who qualify medically and financially to help with the co-pays for their prescriptions and/or pharmaceutical treatments.

For both programs, financial assistance is granted to individuals who meet pre-determined eligibility criteria.

Learn more:

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Collaboration: Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-GeneralMetastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body. In the U.S., most women with metastatic cancer develop it when cancer returns at some point after their initial breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In October 2013, Susan G. Komen® joined forces with 14 other cancer charities and advocacy groups to form the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance (MBC Alliance).

11057533_10156261301990157_1503441011465380924_nThe MBC Alliance aims to unify the efforts of its members and to increase awareness and education while advancing research and policy – efforts for metastatic breast cancer that have the potential to extend life, enhance quality of life and ultimately find a cure.

Learn more at

Watch the MBC Alliance’s video about the experiences of women living with MBC:

Additional information on Metastatic Breast Cancer:

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Collaboration: Young Women

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-GeneralThough most women who get breast cancer are over age 50, young women can and do get breast cancer. Fewer than five percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year occur in women under 40.

At a time in life most often focused on family and career, young women face some unique challenges when it comes to breast cancer, including being concerned about loss of fertility and sexual dysfunction following treatment.  Here are some examples of Susan G. Komen collaborating with other nonprofit organizations to specifically address the challenges faced by young women with breast cancer:


In 2013, Susan G. Komen® sponsored the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) Research Think Tank to gather approximately 60 researchers, medical experts, and educated research advocates to help YSC prioritize unanswered research questions affecting young women with breast cancer.

Read the resulting report:


That same year, Komen partnered with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (DSLRF) and the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) to advance research into side effects of breast cancer treatment, along with research into the causes of, and preventive strategies for, breast cancer.

Learn more:–Collateral-Damage–of-Breast-Cancer-Treatment.html

Conference Sponsorships

Over the last few years, Komen was a proud to sponsor the Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer (Lead Sponsor) and the international Breast Cancer in Young Women Conferences, funding travel scholarships to provide much needed financial assistance for young survivors and patients to attend the annual conference and ensure that the patient voice was incorporated into the research conversation.

Komen also sponsored patient and patient advocate travel scholarships for the inaugural YSC Summit in March 2015 in Houston, TX. This three-day national conference attracted 535 attendees and featured inspirational speakers, workshops addressing the unique issues that young women with breast cancer face, and special wellness activities. In addition, Komen sponsored a YSC Regional Symposium that was held in June 2015 in Washington, DC to a sold-out audience of 250 attendees. This one-day symposium offered survivors and co-survivors the opportunity to explore specific topics, such as sex and intimacy, resiliency and caring for the survivor. Find the most up-to-date, evidence-based information and tools.

Learn more:

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Collaboration: Global

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-GeneralSusan G. Komen® believes that where a woman lives shouldn’t determine if she lives. So Komen is fighting breast cancer in countries across the globe to reduce breast cancer mortality worldwide.

Here are two examples of Komen global collaborations:

Africa: Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon

Breast and cervical cancers take a particularly devastating toll on women in developing countries. In fact, they’re the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Komen is partnering with numerous U.S. and African organizations and working to put an end to these cancer deaths.

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR) was cofounded in September 2011 by Susan G. Komen®, the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

PRRR aims to cost-effectively integrate cervical and breast cancer services into existing health service delivery platforms, beginning by leveraging the PEPFAR infrastructure for HIV/AIDS. Programs are active in Zambia and Tanzania.

Susan G. Komen’s/PRRR’S overarching global objective is to save the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer by down-staging the disease at diagnosis and facilitating access to timely treatment. Early stage diagnosis of breast cancer is associated with significantly improved treatment outcomes.

Learn more:

Latin America: Komen and the Caterpillar Foundation

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and leading cause of cancer deaths in women of Latin America. Several countries exhibit some of the highest mortality rates in the world. Komen works with the Ministries of Health and local organizations in Latin America to educate women about breast cancer and break down barriers to help women access breast health care.

In Latin America, Susan G. Komen and the Caterpillar Foundation have partnered to improve detection of breast cancer and save lives by increasing awareness, strengthening services, and removing barriers to accessing early screening, treatment and cancer care in program communities.

The project initiated in 2011 as two-year collaboration with the Caterpillar Foundation and received additional partnership funding resulting in a three-year extension for activities to continue through 2016. Programs under the Caterpillar grant are active in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Panama.

Learn more:

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Breast Cancer Research: Susan G. Komen® Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-ResearchSince 2007, Susan G. Komen® has invested more than $7.5 million to support the Susan G. Komen® Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center – the only healthy breast tissue repository in the world. By studying normal tissue, the tissue bank accelerates research on the causes and prevention of breast cancer.

To more deeply understand the evolution of the disease, it is necessary to compare abnormal, cancerous tissue against normal, healthy tissue. By providing researchers with high quality normal breast tissue and matched serum, plasma and DNA, the Komen Tissue Bank accelerates research for the causes and prevention of breast cancer.

Learn more about the Komen Tissue Bank:

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Breast Cancer Research: Research Advocacy

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-ResearchAt Susan G. Komen®, we have a unique community of dedicated volunteer research advocates, who, through our Advocates in Science (AIS) program, work to reduce the burden of breast cancer in their communities.

Research advocates bring the patient’s voice to research, ensuring that the unique and valuable perspectives of breast cancer patients, survivors and co-survivors are integrated into the scientific dialogue and decisions, which impact progress toward ending breast cancer.

Research advocates play a variety of roles throughout the research process. Advocates do everything from educating others about research to participating in research grant peer reviews and working with or as part of scientific teams to help prioritize, develop and implement research projects.

To learn more and to join the program:

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Breast Cancer Research: Young Researchers

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-ResearchSusan G. Komen® continues to look to the future of breast cancer research by supporting early career scientists and developing the next generation of leaders in breast cancer research and clinical care.

Recalling our history, you’ll find Komen’s promise to “energize the science” has included funding young investigators since 1990. Now, some of those first young investigators are some of the best “seasoned” breast cancer researchers in the world. They are dedicated to Komen and breast cancer research and are now guiding new young minds to join them.

The field of breast cancer research has consistently attracted new minds to the pursuit of the cures. Unfortunately, with lagging funding everywhere and fewer jobs available, it is hard to keep young scientists in the field of breast cancer research. Without these future leaders and a dedicated workforce, our progress against the disease will not happen. That’s where the Komen Research Program comes in – by providing critical funding that supports the continued research, and thus the continued careers, of these promising scientists. But, we need everyone to help raise the dollars to fund the research.

Research is our investment in the future for our children and friends, an investment in a future without breast cancer.

Learn more about how Komen funds research:

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Statement from Susan G. Komen®: Women Should Have Access to, Coverage for Mammography

Susan G. Komen® shared this statement regarding breast cancer screening:

World’s Largest Breast Cancer Organization Reiterates that Screening Should Be Based on Individual Risk and is Decision for Women and their Health Care Providers

DALLAS – Oct. 20, 2015 – The Susan G. Komen® breast cancer organization today said that all women should have access to regular mammograms when they and their health care providers decide that it is the right time for screening based on individual risk for breast cancer, and that the screening tests should be covered by third-party payers such as insurance companies and government programs.

Komen’s statement came following the release of new American Cancer Society (ACS) screening guidelines, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In the guidelines, ACS raised its recommended age for annual screening mammograms from 40 to 45 for women of average risk for breast cancer, with biennial mammography for women 55-74. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) also has drafted guidelines that would raise the recommended age for regular mammography to 50 for women of average risk.

“We have a great deal of respect for the ACS and the USPSTF, their expert committees and their thorough review of the scientific literature to inform the current guidelines. Although guidelines may differ regarding the age at which routine screening should begin, there is agreement that mammography is the best available tool for detecting breast cancer and that women and their health care providers should decide when those screenings should begin for individuals,” said Dr. Judy Salerno, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen.

Salerno said that the continuing debate over the timing of mammography fails to address several important issues.

“First, the medical field is moving toward determining individual needs for screening based on a woman’s risk, such as family history of breast cancer. Ultimately, women must have better and more accurate information about their individual risk for breast cancer so that they and their providers can make informed decisions about the screening schedule that is right for them. Knowledge is power,” she said. Information about breast cancer risk is available on

“Second, it is estimated that about one-third of women who should be screened do not access these services. This means that we must take all steps necessary to ensure that women don’t face economic or other barriers when their health care providers recommend screening. It’s well established that early detection, combined with effective treatment, reduces mortality from breast cancer.”

“Third – and this is a point we’ve made often – we absolutely must continue to invest in finding screening methods that are more accurate, cost-effective, easy-to-administer, and more widely available than mammography,” Salerno said. Komen has invested more than $33 million to date into research to find better screening technology for breast cancer, such as blood and tissue tests.

The ACS recommendations are not binding on health care providers or payers, Salerno noted, “but we are concerned that they have the potential to lead to reduced accessibility to and coverage for health screenings from both private and public insurers.”

In addition to its new recommended screening ages, ACS said clinical breast exams – the manual palpation of the breast and axilla (underarm) by trained health care providers – are no longer necessary as they did not reduce mortality from breast cancer and because better screening tools, such as mammography, are available. Clinical breast exams are usually conducted during routine “well woman” doctor visits, often beginning when a woman is in her 20s.

“As a practical matter, clinical breast exams take very little time, are not invasive, and may be the only form of breast screening available, especially in rural areas and for younger women who are not at an age when regular mammography would be indicated,” Salerno said, adding that more information is needed on the efficacy of clinical breast exams.

Salerno said Komen and its scientific advisors will closely review the ACS recommendations, including mammography and clinical breast exams.

She acknowledged concerns about “overtreatment” for breast lesions or tumors that are found early but might not develop into cancer. “This is a real issue, but one that also requires education, so that women can have discussions with their health care providers about the course of cancer treatment that is right for them. And more research is needed to help determine which women may go on to have invasive cancer.  A woman cannot make a decision about treatment, however, if she hasn’t been screened.”

Komen also is investing in research that would allow health care providers to accurately differentiate between breast lesions that will become cancerous, and those that won’t.

Breast Cancer Research: Triple Negative Breast Cancer

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-ResearchAbout 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers diagnosed today in the U.S. are triple negative breast cancers (TNBC). These tumors tend to occur more often in younger women and African-American women.

Women who carry a mutated BRCA1 gene tend to have breast cancers that are triple negative. Triple negative tumors are often aggressive. Today there are no targeted therapies specifically for TNBC. However, triple negative breast cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. More research is needed to better understand how this cancer develops and how it can be treated more effectively. And that is what Susan G. Komen® is doing.

Komen has invested more than $80 million in more than 115 research grants focused on triple negative breast cancer since it was first identified as a distinct type of breast cancer in 2006. This research has helped us to understand that:

  • There are at least 6 different subtypes of TNBC, each with different abnormalities, which may be treated using drugs that are specific to these abnormalities.
  • A combination of a new drug called a PARP inhibitor plus standard chemotherapy may be more effective at killing TNBC than chemotherapy alone.
  • A blood test that measures the presence of a specific set of genes may be used to identify TNBC patients with BRCA mutations, resulting in earlier intervention and improved treatment.

Learn more:


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Breast Cancer Research: Clinical Trials

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-ResearchWhen it comes to cancer, clinical trials are one of the biggest reasons we’ve seen gains in breast cancer survival over the past 30 years. And improved survival hasn’t been the only benefit.

Quality of life for people living with cancer has also improved as trials have helped identify more targeted treatments that can help limit many of the side effects of cancer therapies.

Most of us have heard the term “clinical trials” but haven’t given it much thought. Like a lot of important things that fly under the radar, clinical trials have had a huge impact on society.

At their most basic, clinical trial studies done in people test the safety and effectiveness of ways to prevent, detect or treat disease. Participants may benefit from clinical trials themselves, or their participation may benefit others in the future. They are the first to receive new treatments under investigation and, in cancer clinical trials, are guaranteed to receive the best standard care possible. And, clinical trials offer a way for women with breast cancer to play an active role in their own health care and help others by adding to medical research.

For clinical trials of new cancer treatments, there are four main types of trials, though there can be some overlap between types depending on the study.

Phase 1 (phase I): Trials that test to see if a new treatment is safe to use over a range of doses.

Phase 2 (phase II): Trials that test to see how well a new treatment works on a certain type of cancer.

Phase 3 (phase III): Trials that test to see how well a new treatment (including surgical procedures) works compared to the best standard treatment (standard of care).

Phase 4 (phase IV): Trials study the long-term side effects of treatments or answer new questions about treatment. They are done after a new breast cancer treatment is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are many sources you can use for finding clinical trials. Each is a little different and some allow searching for trials based on factors like age, gender, breast cancer history, treatment history and geographic area as well as study-type preferences. For example, in collaboration with Susan G. Komen®, offers a custom matching service that can help you find a clinical trial that fits your health needs. Though these sites can be helpful search tools, the best approach is to ask your health care provider or local medical center for help finding an appropriate clinical trial.

Learn more:

We are celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Connect with and follow Komen St. Louis and use #Komen365 to join in the conversation.