A Fun Way to Give Back with Listia!

photo-1421986527537-888d998adb74Exciting news – we’re honored to be one of Listia’s designated charities for the month of June! Listia is a marketplace where you can trade things you don’t need anymore for stuff you want. It’s all free with no money involved. How cool is that?

With Listia’s monthly Charity Program, all members are encouraged to donate funds to charity without spending any money whatsoever. Members are able to donate a few of their Listia Credits to our foundation. While members donate their Credits, Listia matches those credits with real money which is then donated once the month is complete.

Since June is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, we will direct all funds raised through our partnership with Listia to our excellent prostate cancer research programs at Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Columbia University Medical Center. Please click here to learn more and help support our prostate cancer research!

Thanks so much to our friends at Listia for their generous support!

Guest Blog Post: What Causes Breast Cancer?

Dr. James Holland is the Distinguished Professor of Neoplastic Diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and his leadership is instrumental in the development of the T.J. Martell Memorial Laboratories in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Although there has been wonderful progress in diagnosing breast cancer in the last 35 years using physical exam, sonography, mammography and magnetic resonance imaging, and in surgery, substituting lumpectomy for radical mastectomy, and sentinel node biopsy for wide dissection, and in radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, so that the majority of women are now cured of this common disease,  little research has been done on finding one or more causes that makes this disease so common.

Recognized inherited genetic factors account for less than 10% of cases. The T.J. Martell Memorial Laboratories in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has a deep program exploring a viral cause for human breast cancer. Breast cancer in mice is known to be caused by a mammary tumor virus (MMTV).  We have found a virus 90 to 95% identical to MMTV which we have named HMTV, in 40% of the breast cancers in American women.  We can infect other cells with it, indicating HMTV is alive and active.  It is not in the normal tissues of the patient, thus excluding genetic inheritance, but rather is acquired after birth.  The distribution of the virus in breast cancers around the world (high in the USA, low in China for example) parallels the content of MMTV in the different species of mice which varies widely.

The work will continue until we provide rock solid proof that HMTV causes human breast cancer, which then opens up new means of prevention and therapy.  And none of this would have happened without Martell Foundation support.

Managing Breast Cancer Risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are excited to feature several guest bloggers on this topic.  The first is Dr. James Holland, Distinguished Professor of Neoplastic Diseases  at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the T.J. Martell Foundation’s Founding Research Scientist:

Every woman must think of breast cancer as a risk that can be managed better by attention than by negligence.

–  Starting at age 50 (and many think at age 40) mammograms are of great value in early diagnosis.

–  Other supplementary diagnostic methods include sonography and magnetic resonance imaging.

–  Self examination can help; professional examination is much better.

Early diagnosis markedly improves curability.

–  Although there are some known genetic predispositions, they account for less than one in ten breast cancers, and thus no woman is exempt.

– Although breast cancer occurs in men, the great preponderance in women establishes that estrogen is a critical component of its development.

– Post-menopausal hormonal replacement increases risk.

On prevention:

– Exercise is one preventive, and is free.

– Drugs that diminish estrogen effect on breast tissue, such as tamoxifen or raloxifen are valuable in women at high risk.

– We do not yet have a universal preventive, however.

Improved treatments:

– For early breast cancers removal of the entire breast is rarely needed.  Preservation of the breast is psychologically advantageous.

– After surgery, and sometimes even before, hormone therapy, radiation therapy,  chemotherapy and immunotherapy may all have roles to play in specific instances.

– Cure is possible most of the time, and even in the minority who are not cured, there are usually major benefits of treatment.

The day will come when we know how to prevent many if not most breast cancers without seriously compromising normal life (as has been true for lung cancer by tobacco avoidance, for skin cancer by sunshine avoidance, and for penile cancer by circumcision). Until then, alert attention, not fear, is the best path for today’s woman.

James F Holland MD
Distinguished Professor of Neoplastic Diseases
Mount Sinai School of Medicine