A World Without Cancer – Guest Post

Dr. Margaret Cuomo is the author of “A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention;” she is a board-certified radiologist who served as an attending physician in diagnostic radiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. for many years. She was the keynote speaker at the T.J. Martell Foundation’s inaugural Women of Influence Awards at Riverpark in New York City.

We are honored to share her perspective here on Angelina Jolie’s courageous decision regarding the discovery of her BRCA1 genetic mutation and subsequent bilateral (aka “double”) mastectomy, as well as the implications for the cancer community.

Dr. Margaret Cuomo is the author of “A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention.”

Angelina Jolie has my admiration for her courage in publicly describing her decision to undergo a bilateral (aka “double”) mastectomy. Her BRCA1 genetic mutation significantly increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

According to Jolie’s New York Times op-ed piece, her doctors estimated that she has an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. Women who have inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers and 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers (for white women) in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Knowing that her own mother died at the age of 56 following her battle with cancer, Angelina Jolie, the mother of six children, decided to be pro-active, and decided to sharply reduce her risk of breast cancer by undergoing the mastectomy.

The question that I hope many women are asking is: “Is this the best that we can do in the 21st century?” After 41 years and more than 90 billion dollars spent since the War on Cancer was declared, we should expect more effective and less invasive solutions to reducing breast cancer, and all cancers.

Are the National Cancer Institute and the pharmaceutical industry committing enough of their intellectual and financial resources to the discovery of safe, new ways of detecting breast cancer and ovarian cancer in their earliest stages?  If a patient has a BRCA1 or BRACA2 mutation, are there techniques available to “turn-off” the faulty genes?

Is there a sense of urgency about finding new tests to detect breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and other cancers, that do not involve radiation – a known carcinogen?

The prevention of cancer should be our ultimate goal and it should have the full benefit of the National Cancer Institute’s and industry’s vast resources.

Our children are our future, and we should expect that their generation will prevent cancer without the traumatic solution that Angelina Jolie felt obliged to accept.

Women of Influence

 

GRAMMY nominated musician Elle Varner (l), honoree Joanne Camuti, Director American Airlines, honoree Lori Stokes, Eyewitness News anchor for WABC, honoree, famed columnist and founder of wowowow.com, Liz Smith, honoree Marcie Allen, President of MAC Presents and Director/Beach 119, honoree Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo, the event’s host and Weekend TODAY personality Jenna Wolfe and Laura Heatherly, CEO of the T.J. Martell Foundation. Photo Credit Nick King NY

This week the T.J. Martell Foundation launched the Women of Influence Awards at Riverpark in New York.  The Foundation honored five incredible women from various business backgrounds: Marcie Allen, President of MAC Presents; Joann Camuti, Director, Sales Promotions and Community Relations, with American Airlines; Dr. Margaret I Cuomo, Author of A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention; Liz Smith, famed Journalist, Columnist and Co-Founder of wowOwow.com; and Lori Stokes, ABC Eyewitness News Anchor.  Jenna Wolfe of NBC’s Today Show was the Mistress of Ceremonies and Grammy-Nominated recording artist Elle Varner performed a special song called “So Fly” for the women in the audience.

The event brought men and women from around the country together to support the honorees, have a great time, but most importantly, to raise awareness and funds for women’s cancer research programs through the great work of Dr. James Holland, Distinguished Professor of Neoplastic Diseases of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and Dr.Jimmie Holland, Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo who recently published “A World Without Cancer” gave remarks to the audience highlighting key tips for early detection and cancer prevention.  Her address to the audience was heartfelt and made all of us feel strongly about taking better care of ourselves!

I have to say that as I reflect on the wonderful day at the T.J. Martell event, it made me realize that we ALL can be Women and Men of Influence.  We are the best advocates for encouraging our family, friends and colleagues to take better care of themselves by exercising, eating healthier, limiting alcohol intake, getting rest, don’t smoke and getting yearly medical exams.   It is the best medicine one can take to live a longer, healthier life.