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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA center steps out against breast cancer

For many students, breast cancer seems like a distant threat — something that affects only post-menopausal women.

But Dr. Alison Stopeck, at the Arizona Cancer Center, says she has several breast cancer patients, some of whom are UA graduate students.

“”It’s important to know your family history,”” said Stopeck. “”For young women, there’s a small but finite risk.””

Overzealous diagnoses can be equally harmful.

“”You have many more false positives with women under 20,”” Stopeck said. “”We’ve always known that, but we’ve come to realize that perhaps even the scans have small risks. So we are picking up on the fact that it might be doing more harm than good.””

It’s important for each woman to know her own body, she said, because most irregularities are caught through self-exams.

She noted that the Cancer Center often deals with high-risk patients and has nutrition and chemoprevention programs which help prevent rather than treat cancer.

In fact, the Arizona Science Center, founded in 1976, and one of only 40 federally-deemed comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S., has its own breast cancer telecommunication series.

Called “”Vida! Breast Cancer Tele-education Series,”” the initiative has been reaching out to cancer survivors, providers and those at risk since 2008 to promote education on the disease.

According to Ana Maria Lopez, who heads the series, the project is focused on developing teleconference breast cancer education programs tailored to the needs of survivors near the Arizona-Mexico border. She says they assess the effectiveness of these tele-education sessions and try to cater to patient needs.

This is just one of Arizona Cancer Center’s many achievements.

“”It’s got a really long history,”” said Sarah Hammond, public affairs officer for the center. “”We’ve had 16 spin-off companies, and for a center our size, I think it stands out.””

Hammond says the mission is “”to prevent and cure cancer.””

“”But if you never get that disease at all, then we don’t have to treat it,”” she added.

The center treats people of all ages, and some in their teens and early 20s come in to be treated for breast cancer, but that number is a small percentage of the whole.

“”Young women do get it. It’s rare, but they do,”” Hammond said.

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