by Lorna Larsen RN BScN, Team Shan President
My daughter Shanna (Shan) was diagnosed late with metastatic breast cancer in early 2005. Shan’s symptoms were misdiagnosed repeatedly by medical professionals and the cancer had time to spread. Despite her positive outlook and the predictions of hope, Shan lost her life to the disease. Shan was only 24.
As a nurse and health promotion specialist, the issue of breast cancer in young women had not come across my desk. Encouraged by colleagues and experts in the field I was asked to consider using my nursing skills and talents to fill the information gap in breast cancer awareness for young women. I took on the commitment to support my grief journey and make a difference for young women following in Shan’s footsteps.
by Daniel B. Kopans, M.D., F.A.C.R., F.S.B.I, Professor of Radiology Harvard Medical School, Founder – Breast Imaging Division – Massachusetts General Hospital
“ALTERNATIVE FACTS” AND BREAST CANCER SCREENING
“Alternative Facts” (AF) recently appeared as an outrageous concept in the “political arena”. What most do not realize is that “alternative” facts have been promulgated for decades by those seeking to reduce access to breast cancer screening. This has led to the pseudo “debate” about screening that has persisted for decades due to the “alternative facts” that have been manufactured to keep the “debate” going. Each time an “alternative fact” has been generated to cast doubt on screening, it has been refuted by science ([i]). Unfortunately, as each (true) fact has been established, new “alternative facts” have been manufactured. The article in the Annals of Internal Medicine cited by Nicholas Bakalar in the New York Times is an example of misinformation that got past poor peer review at a major journal and was published despite its lack of scientific rigor. The study from Norway ([ii]), cited by Mr. Bakalar ([iii]), claiming massive “overdiagnosis” due to mammography had no data on who actually had mammograms and no data on which cancers were detected by mammography. How can a test (mammography) be faulted when the “investigators” had no information on who actually had the test? In an earlier, scientifically more rigorous study from Denmark, Njor, et al looked at actual individual patient data and they found that there was little if any “overdiagnosis” due to screening ([iv]) and, another study found, contrary to the conclusions of the paper reviewed by Bakalar, that screening had in fact resulted in a marked decline in deaths from breast cancer in Denmark ([v]).
by Khevin Barnes, Breast Cancer Survivor
I remember the very moment my primary care physician announced that he was scheduling me for a mammogram. It was May 3rd, 2014. I watched the expression on his face as he told me this, hoping to discover some faint smile to indicate that he was joking with me. I looked at him incredulously, not quite understanding the words he had just spoken. I waited for the punchline. There wasn’t any.
by Lorna Larsen RN, BScN, Team Shan President
AYA = 15-39 years of age
Team Shan Breast Cancer Awareness for Young Women (Team Shan) is a national charity dedicated to educating the public, health care professionals and young women about early detection, risk reduction and prevention of breast cancer. Team Shan has developed a comprehensive social marketing model to inform young women in Canada about their breast cancer risk and breast health information. Team Shan has regularly commissioned literature reviews on the current evidence available on breast cancer in young women. The reviews have guided Team Shan breast cancer awareness campaign messaging and efforts to reach this population at risk.
by Lorna Larsen RN, BScN, Team Shan President
Reaching young people with their cancer risk and self-care messaging requires health promotion strategies that are both engaging and entertaining. A comprehensive approach, using multi-faceted awareness activities, has been successful in reaching this population at risk, but ongoing technical advances require innovative approaches to share vital self-care information.
by Lorna Larsen, RN, BScN, Team Shan President
Caught between childhood and adulthood, adolescents and young adults (AYA) are often misdiagnosed or ignored in cancer prevention and early detection messaging. Referred to as the forgotten generation, the 15-39 age trajectory is too frequently misdiagnosed and diagnosed late with cancer. Mortality rates have not changed in decades, cancer is often very aggressive in this population at risk and no routine screening is available. Cancer awareness is an identified gap in the AYA cancer continuum.