DOVER — The 20th annual Breast Cancer Update held by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition played host to over 300 community members such as physicians, nurses, social workers, breast cancer survivors and advocates on Tuesday in the Rollins Center in the Dover Downs Hotel. The free event routinely features leading medical experts and speakers discussing advances in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and “survivorship.”
Although the event has its roots in being a professional education seminar, it has long offered important and useful information to the “layperson” as well, said Wilma Yu a DBCC Trustee Emeritus.
“There is a lot of high-level, professional information shared at this update, but patients have been becoming much more sophisticated over the past few years and I think anyone with an interest in cancer benefits from attending,” she said.
The event chair, Marilyn Hyte noted that the update was a great chance for the community to hear about recent advances in the cancer research field and interface with other professionals and patients. A former cancer researcher and 10-year cancer survivor herself, she was very encouraged to see interdisciplinary cooperation.
“We’ve come so far in the past five or six years; back when I was a researcher it took a decade before you could get the next drug, technology or technique,” she said. “What I heard at the update is that the field is changing every few years — not just for breast cancer, but all cancers. At the event, I heard many of the physicians talking with each other rather than at each other which is another great development. Radiologists didn’t really talk to surgeons and surgeons didn’t talk to yoga instructors or massage therapists in the past. It’s wonderful to see.”
The DBCC is a 501(c)(3) organization offering statewide programs and services of education, outreach and early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Headquartered in Wilmington, the organization also has offices in Sussex and Kent counties. As outlined by their mission, the DBCC helps women with low incomes and those with little or no insurance to receive free or reduced-cost care. They also support the National Breast Cancer Coalition and their research efforts by helping to facilitate participation in local clinical trials. All funds raised for DBCC support programs in Delaware and the neighboring areas in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.
Although much of the update was focused on defining the Cancer Moonshot Task Force’s goal to bring an end to breast cancer, discussing various screening strategies and identifying current trends and advances in breast cancer treatment and current clinical trials, time was also take to share some practical techniques and adjunct treatments for patients like exercise, yoga, nutrition and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of cancer.
Fifteen-year cancer survivor Nanci Mayer-Mihalski, who also chairs the DBCC Research Committee, attended the event and said that some of the most important things she heard during the panel discussions were recommendations made from the “soft science” perspectives.
“I think some of the ideas put forward about nutrition and exercise were excellent,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing collaboration between all the different practitioners as well. With translational research and mass sharing of data, we’re really making our way toward that Moonshot initiative.”
On a panel called “Being Accountable for your Own Health,” Marianne Carter, director of Delaware Health Promotion at Delaware State University, was on hand to give some of these practical tips. She focused on what she called the “three Fs” — food, fat and fitness.
“There’s no exact guidelines — I can’t tell you that you can eat this, this and that and you’ll never get breast cancer — we’re not at that point yet,” she said. “However, there are a number of recommendations that we know can impact your risk.”
During her panel discussion, Ms. Carter shared 10 guidelines offered by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research:
•Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight;
•Be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day;
•Avoid sugary drinks and things that are very high in calories;
•Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes;
•Limit the consumption of red meat and processed meat;
•Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day;
•Limit consumption of salt and foods processed with salt;
•Avoid using nutritional supplements to prevent cancer, eat nutrient rich food instead;
•It’s best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months;
•For cancer survivors, it’s best to follow the same recommendations after treatment to avoid recurrence.
“A recent study looked at women who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer and it found that woman who followed five or six of these guideline had a 60 percent lower chance of developing it,” Ms. Carter said. “We know that these are solid, actionable steps we can take.”
To dive the point home further, Ms. Carter offered her top three takeaways — the items she felt were most important for women trying to avoid breast cancer and resurgence after treatment.
“Eat a health, low fat, mostly plant-based diet — two thirds of what we’re eating should be plant-based,” she said. “Limit alcohol intake and strive to achieve a healthy weight for cancer prevention.”
For more information about the DBCC, call 866-312-DBCC (3222) or visit their website at www.debreastcancer.org.
Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at email@example.com