There is surely considerable and most justified cause for optimism concerning the fight to rid the world of breast cancer.
Then, again, much more needs to be done.
As documented by the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women in both the developed and less developed regions of the planet.
In the United States, among all cancers in women, only skin cancer is more prevalent than breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. and the leading cause of cancer for Hispanic women in the country.
Breast cancer is not only a female disease. While rare, breast cancer afflicts men as well.
Breast cancer has been with humanity for a long time.
As reported in the Healthline story, “History of Breast Cancer, “… the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus describes cases of breast cancer. This medical text dates back to 3,000–2,500 B.C.E.”
Please click to here to be taken to the full Healthline story, which is an informative and interesting read that discusses, in addition to the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, other of the oldest historical references to breast cancer; significant milestones in breast cancer treatment; how the disease is treated today; and the prognosis and outlook for treating and preventing this form of cancer.
The Healthline article links to and references a page at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website where is found statistics on breast cancer. Following is an excerpt from the page:
“Each year in the United States, about 245,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,200 in men. About 41,000 women and 460 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Over the last decade, the rate of getting breast cancer has not changed for women overall, but the rate has increased for black women and Asian and Pacific Islander women. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than white women.”
In 1985, the American Cancer Society and United Kingdom-based Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) teamed to found and establish Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) and designate October as the date for the event.
Initially, the almost sole focus and purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was to publicize the importance of a mammogram as the best option for making the earliest possible detection of the presence of the disease.
Almost 35 years later, the mammogram remains the best way to catch breast cancer at its earliest.
Today, beyond publicizing the importance of mammograms, BCAM has a broader writ and mission: raising money to fund and promote research aimed at finding more effective ways to prevent and treat the disease, fund and establish support services and programs for those with breast cancer … and to ultimately find a cure.
It is the privilege of Willwork Global Event Services to serve clients ranging in size from giant multinational corporations with hundreds of thousands of employees to small businesses with only a few employees.
Among our clients are those that develop, manufacture, and market products and services that are used in the prevention and treatment of illness; in healing; in making life easier, more efficient, and more convenient; and in helping to create a planet that is safer and more livable.
Willwork Global Event Services clients are deeply and vitally involved in … and contribute to … the fight to defeat breast cancer.
In fact, one of those clients, AstraZeneca – a worldwide leader in the development of biopharmaceutical therapies – has organizational roots in the creation and launch of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
And here we share a bit of corporate history.
In 1993, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) – co-founder of BCAM – demerged its pharmaceutical and agrochemical divisions, which became a separate company, Zeneca Group.
In 1999, Zeneca Group merged with Swedish pharmaceutical company Astra AB to create AstraZeneca, based in London.
AstraZeneca invents medicines and therapies across four primary areas: oncology, cardiovascular, renal and metabolism, and respiratory.
It is now close to a half-century since AstraZeneca produced its first drug to treat breast cancer. In 2019, AstraZeneca has five breast cancer drugs available.
AstraZeneca has 10 potential breast cancer treatment pharmaceuticals in development.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted a priority review of AstraZeneca’s drug, trastuzumab deruxtecan, for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer
On April 2 of this year, we published in this space a post, “Willwork Global Event Services Clients Are Out Front In Developing And Applying Artificial Intelligence To Improve And Make Better The World In Which We Live.”
AI – which is also referred to as “machine learning” – inventions and discoveries of these organizations are relied-on and powerful weapons in the effort to identify breast cancer at its earliest and increase the chances for successful treatment.
A scientist stewarding and directing some of the most exciting and promising research on how AI can improve and make more accurate and earlier breast cancer diagnosis is Regina Barzilay, a professor at the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and a breast cancer survivor.
In 2017, Ms. Barzilay was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” for her “significant contributions to a wide range of problems in computational linguistics, including both interpretation and generation of human language.“
At the time that Ms. Barzilay received the MacArthur grant for her use of AI in the field of linguistics and language, she was also working and experimenting with machine learning to advance cancer detection.
To learn about the work of Regina Barzilay and colleagues in applying AI to breast cancer diagnosis, please click here to be taken to an NPR story and podcast, “Training A Computer To Read Mammograms As Well As A Doctor,” by Richard Harris and published/broadcast on April 1 of this year.
Ruth Porat, CFO of Google parent company, Alphabet, talks openly about her battle with breast cancer, and is steering and supporting initiatives at Google that employ the company’s AI technology to improve healthcare, including in the area of breast cancer diagnosis.
Following is the first paragraph of a story, “The way we use mammograms is seriously flawed but AI could change that,” published September 16, 2018 in the international business news and commentary outlet Quartz:
“Google’s artificial intelligence technology, DeepMind, beat the world champion at the ancient Chinese game ‘Go’ in 2016. It was a major AI victory, arriving nearly a decade earlier than most experts had predicted. Now, the same technology has a new goal: improving reading breast-cancer screenings, which could directly affect millions of people across the globe.”
Please click here to be taken to the full Quartz story which was authored by Hope Reese.
In the April 2 post, we reported, “IBM is an AI pioneer. Indeed, its Watson computing system is the smartest and most famous AI technology platform on the planet.”
Here is an excerpt from a Becker Hospital Review article, “IBM AI predicts breast cancer up to a year in advance using health records, mammograms,” written by Andrea Park and published this past June 18:
“An IBM algorithm combining machine and deep learning to analyze health records and mammograms was able to predict the development of breast cancer up to 12 months before its onset with nearly 90 percent accuracy, according to a study published June 18 in Radiology. “
AWS’s AI platform Amazon Sagemaker hosts the Breast Cancer Disease State Predictor, machine learning software developed by Perception Health that enables scientists, researchers, and healthcare professionals, “predict disease before diagnosis, optimize care pathways and networks to engage patients earlier, and save more lives.”
Amazon Web Services created and sponsors the AWS Machine Learning Research Awards (MLRA), which rewards and supports the following mission:
“The AWS Machine Learning Research Awards (MLRA) assists faculty, PhD candidates, and graduate students with research to advance the frontiers of machine learning (ML) and its application across a wide range of problems – from finding new therapies for cancer to solving climate change and exploring outer space.”
This past spring, an MLRA was awarded to Zachary Chase Lipton, a professor of business technologies at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, “for his work to improve the accuracy of diagnosis of breast cancer.”
Willwork Global Event Services will dedicate a future post to advances in and the status of the quest to improve breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment – and to find a cure for the disease.
Peach Became Pink
Charlotte Haley, a 68-year-old grandmother, mother, and housewife, had had enough. It was 1992 and she felt compelled to call attention to the fact that of the $1.8 billion annual budget of the National Cancer Institute, only five percent went to cancer prevention.
Ms. Haley was not lacking for motivation.
She was a driven woman.
Ms. Haley’s grandmother died from cancer at the age of 45. Ms. Haley’s mother was in her early 40s when cervical cancer killed her.
Ms. Haley’s sister and daughter were breast cancer survivors.
Charlotte Haley thought up a way to call attention to the need to increase funding for cancer research, and for the National Cancer Institute to change its budgeting allocations.
Ms. Haley started sending out postcards to which were affixed peach ribbons – she handmade at her dining room table – and which she requested people wear to help sound the clarion for the cause.
When nationally syndicated columnist Liz Smith mentioned Charlotte Haley and her efforts in one of her columns, Ms. Haley immediately began to receive an avalanche of inquiries about and requests for ribbons from across the country.
With all the requests for ribbons, Ms. Haley had to change things up a bit so that she wasn’t paying for all the postage. In exchange for self-addressed stamped envelopes people sent her, she mailed them the cards to which five peach ribbons were attached.
Clicking here takes you to a Los Angeles Times story, “Peach Corps : Activism: Breast cancer has afflicted her grandmother, sister and daughter, so Charlotte Haley is urging people to wear ribbons to ‘wake up’ America,” written by Kathleen Hendrix and published on August 20, 1992.
Two people who took note of Charlotte Haley and her cancer awareness ribbon campaign were Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies and a leading philanthropist, and her friend, Alexandra Penney, editor of Self magazine.
In 1991, with Ms. Penney at the helm, Self magazine published its first “Breast Cancer Awareness” issue.
Ms. Lauder was the standard bearer for a fundraising and public awareness initiative that resulted, in 1992, in the creation of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
That same year, Ms. Lauder and Alexandra Penney established the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Also, in 1992, Evelyn Lauder and Alexandra Penney asked Charlotte Haley if Self, for its second-annual Breast Cancer Awareness issue, could employ and attach and feature her peach ribbon and symbolism and call to action.
Charlotte Haley, citing that she felt that the specific form that the Self issue was taking was too corporate and commercially aligned, declined.
Self consulted its legal team, and it advised a course that the magazine took – use a ribbon for the issue, but one that was the color pink.
Pink remains the rallying color.
Pink remains the motivating and inspiring color.
And pink unifies tens of millions around the world who have struggled and struggle with the disease, and the leaders and foot soldiers of the movement that will one day find the cure.