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News and Updates

Join the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer

By Marion Kavanaugh-Lynch

September 21, 2018

Despite significant advances in breast cancer treatment, people continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer at astounding rates that haven't changed in my 23 years at the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) – a data point that continues to disturb me and inform our priorities at CBCRP.

I have lived this reality, as have so many of us, as friends, co-workers, and acquaintances divulge their diagnoses to me. Each time, I think "Will this never stop?" Perhaps it is a side effect of my profession, but I was not really surprised last September when I discovered my own breast cancer. While I am lucky to have a more indolent cancer, allowing me to eschew the more toxic treatments, I have not been spared the tests, the decisions, facing my mortality, and the year-long journey of medical appointments, side effects, and emotional roller-coaster that accompanies every breast cancer diagnosis.

I am determined to advance progress on primary breast cancer prevention. And my own experiences have made me even more determined. In support of this goal, today we're launching the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer. We want your ideas for preventing breast cancer. We want your colleague's ideas. We want your neighbor's ideas. This challenge is aimed at uncovering the best, game-changing ideas for prevention, and we aim to turn over every rock to surface them.

CBCRP started as a legislative bill that no one thought could pass. It did pass and we have now spent decades forwarding breast cancer research and education. We've grown beyond everyone's expectations, and our work has shed light on new information that wouldn't have been discovered otherwise. Our valuable research includes exploring the role of environmental contaminants in breast cancer, breast cancer disparities and the overall prevention of breast cancer. We are now launching the challenge with the goal of catalyzing a robust new arm of research focused on primary breast cancer prevention, an endeavor that many think is near to impossible, or at best a tall order.

Although $2 billion is spent annually on breast cancer research, less than 10 percent is dedicated to breast cancer prevention research. We now know that about 70 percent of breast cancer cases could have an environmental cause and that social disparities dramatically impact outcomes, leading us to believe that communities are likely to be an important source of insights on how to tackle prevention. To reach these communities and others who may have breakthrough ideas, we felt we needed to put the word out to all – through our Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer.

The most promising ideas from the challenge will frame CBCRP's future funding strategy and will be further developed in California with $15 million in grant funding from the program. All finalists will receive cash prizes, feedback from respected researchers, and the opportunity to present ideas to prominent leaders in the field. Moreover, because we believe researcher and advocate (who we are defining as anyone who is a non-researcher) ideas have equal value, we've created a separate entry category for researchers and another for advocates. Whether your career has been steeped in cancer research or you're just hearing these breast cancer prevention statistics for the first time, we want to hear from you.

The application window is open until January 7, 2019. We need the best and brightest ideas from everyone around the world - that's why we've called this the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer. Join the challenge today, and help us spread the word.

Thank you,
Marion H. E. Kavanaugh-Lynch
CBCRP Director