Our Priorities

In 2007 Breast Cancer Action drew up a five-year strategic plan recommitting the organization to its role as the watchdog of the breast cancer movement. Our plan goes beyond the notion of “the cure” and tackles the most pressing issues that must be addressed for real change to happen. By “Challenging Assumptions” and “Inspiring Change,” we want to impact future conversations in all the important aspects of breast cancer. As a result of our visioning and strategic planning process, Breast Cancer Action has identified three priority areas on which to focus our work.

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Advocate for more effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments by shifting the balance of power in the Food and Drug Administration’s drug approval process away from the pharmaceutical industry and toward the public interest. Our independence from pharmaceutical company funding puts us in a unique position in the breast cancer movement to advance this ambitious goal. And the need for this work becomes more evident every day. Whether the problem is the FDA approving drugs for breast cancer treatment like Avastin before they have been shown to improve either survival or quality of life for breast cancer patients, or the need to pay attention to emerging dangerous side effects of drugs like ESAs that have been heavily marketed to breast cancer patients, BCA will always put the needs of women with breast cancer first and encourage the FDA to do the same.

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Decrease involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer. While many breast cancer organizations offer advice on how individuals can reduce their voluntary exposures to carcinogens, the policy changes needed to eliminate these exposures for everyone require a broader social justice approach that BCA has always provided and will continue to provide. While people in some cases can avoid consuming dairy products that come from cows treated with rBGH — a growth hormone that is bad for our health, and the use of which has been linked to breast cancer — our work focuses on getting companies to change their practices so no one is exposed to rBGH-induced dairy products. We do this work by giving people the tools to demand the changes necessary to protect everyone from dangerous exposures.

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Create awareness that it is not just genes, but social injustices — political, economic, and racial inequities — that lead to disparities in breast cancer outcomes. Discussions of the social determinants of health are beginning to emerge in a number of health fields, but the cancer world still focuses on genes and differences in screening patterns. So, while many people in public health understand that we can reduce the burden of asthma by focusing on the physical environments in which people live, the conversation in cancer focuses on the biological differences between people or differences in access to breast cancer screening. We know there is more to it than this. BCA has changed many conversations in breast cancer, and we will work to change this one as well, so that people understand the social justice lens in which breast cancer needs to be seen and studied in order to change the differences in breast cancer outcomes that affect different groups of people.

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