The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade:
20 Years of Progress
When the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade began 20 years ago, only 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer survived more than five years. Today, those odds are greater than 85%. And, for cancers caught in the earliest stages, the odds of surviving five years are greater than 98%.
Great advances have been made in the past 20 years, including progress in:
- Early detection with digital mammography, ultrasound, and MRI
- Use of less invasive surgery in most cases
- Understanding that there are several distinct types of breast cancer
- Introduction of targeted therapies and new tests to determine who will benefit from chemotherapy
Since the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade launched in 1992 through 2012, Avon breast cancer programs in 58 countries have donated more than $780 million for research and advancing access to quality care for everyone. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade’s life-saving work over the past two decades has made Avon the leading corporate supporter of the breast cancer cause globally.
To end breast cancer, we need to understand its causes and work toward prevention. We also need a better understanding of how to treat breast cancer in young women, stop metastatic disease, and treat rare but aggressive types of cancer, and we need to intensify our efforts to ensure equal access to quality care for all. In 2012, the Avon Foundation committed nearly $40 million to accelerate our progress in reaching those goals.
Global Breast Cancer Clinical Scholars Program
The inaugural class of Avon Global Breast Cancer Clinical Scholars arrived in the United States in the fall of 2012 to participate in six to eight weeks of advanced training at a U.S.-based breast cancer specialty center. Announced by Avon Foundation Honorary Chairperson Reese Witherspoon at the Foundation's October 2011 Breast Cancer Global Congress, the Global Scholars Program aspires to educate doctors to help reduce the unacceptably high mortality rates from breast cancer in many countries. The 25 physicians in the first class hailed from 14 countries and trained at Avon Foundation-funded breast cancer programs at 13 top U.S. medical centers in breast cancer surgery, pathology, breast imaging (radiology), medical oncology, clinical trial design and community and public health. The scholars have returned to their home countries and already are using and sharing their new skills to improve breast cancer outcomes in their countries.
Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Forum
More than 275 patient navigators, community health educators, advocates, and physicians joined the Avon Foundation in New York on March 21-23 for the 2012 Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Access to Care Forum. This network of Avon Foundation grantees learned about the latest clinical advances in breast cancer and shared best practices from communities around the country. We also turned a spotlight on new ways to deliver the best treatments to all women — regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay — and unveiled a groundbreaking new study regarding racial disparity and breast cancer mortality rates.
Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality
An Avon Foundation for Women-funded study examining the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality in the United States, conducted by the Sinai Urban Health Institute, found that nearly five black women die needlessly per day from breast cancer in the United States — a total of 1,722 deaths annually. The 2012 Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Mortality Study found that 21 of the 25* largest U.S. cities have a black:white disparity in breast cancer mortality, 13 of which are statistically significant. The study’s authors concluded that societal issues such as poverty and racial inequities cause most of the disparity and genetic factors comprise only a small portion of the disparity. In response to this study — the first national study to examine the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality at the city level in the United States — the Avon Foundation and Sinai Urban Health Institute provided four key recommendations to prevent breast cancer deaths and the Avon Foundation has funded additional research into racial disparities, as well as supporting action plans to reverse these statistics.
* Data only available for 24 of the 25 cities
Expert Think Tank of Breast Cancer Scientists
The Avon Foundation convened a “think tank” of 16 scientist and advocate experts to examine and design research experiments to definitively determine the role of viruses as a cause of breast cancer. The experts suggested how to improve and standardize ongoing projects and identified new projects to fill gaps in this area of research. The investigators and postdoctoral fellows conducting the Avon-funded virus research projects are working aggressively to determine if a virus plays a role in causing any of the subtypes of breast cancer. They now conduct weekly "Virtual Lab Meetings" to discuss and coordinate the ongoing research in real time, as opposed to having to wait for reports at scientific conferences or new presentations.
Honoring Breast Cancer Champions
On Oct. 30, 2012, the Avon Foundation planned to commemorate 20 years of life-saving work by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade at the 12th Annual Avon Foundation for Women Awards Gala by honoring extraordinary leaders in the fight against breast cancer. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy forced the first-ever Gala cancellation. Avon Foundation for Women Global Ambassador Fergie and Avon Products, Inc., CEO Sheri McCoy were the scheduled co-hosts for this milestone event, with featured guests Paula Abdul, Chelsea Clinton, and Hoda Kotb, and more than 600 attendees. Every year since 2001, the Avon Foundation for Women has recognized individuals, organizations and companies for leadership in women’s causes, but because of the Gala’s cancellation, the Foundation honored this year’s four honorees virtually. They are: Judith A. Luce, MD, director of the Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Program at San Francisco General Hospital; Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, FACR, Professor of Radiology at Magee-Women’s Hospital at Magee Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine; Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE Magazine Constance C.R. White; and William J. Clinton Foundation Board Member Chelsea Clinton. In honor of the Clinton Foundation, the Avon Foundation also announced it will expand its previous Clinton Global Initiative Commitment, "Advancing Breast Cancer Diagnoses and Treatment in Haiti," with a new $100,000 grant to Partners in Health.
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer: Our 10th Birthday
The Avon Foundation celebrated the Avon Walk’s 10th Birthday season in 2012 by launching a new Avon Walk website and hosting 10th birthday parties in all nine Avon Walk cities. These weekend-long, life-changing, and inspiring events took place from April through October 2012 and nearly 20,000 participants raised almost $47 million. The Foundation presented 77 grants to leading cancer centers, research institutions and community-based organizations in the Walk regions during the Walks’ closing ceremonies to ensure the funds raised immediately benefit the local communities. Additional grants from Walk donations were awarded throughout the year to breast cancer research and care programs nationwide. The 2013 season steps off in Houston in April, followed by Washington, DC; Boston; Chicago; Santa Barbara; San Francisco; New York and Charlotte.