From Self-exams To Mammograms — What's a Woman To Do?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

SEATTLE — Aug. 25, 2003 — The past year has been a confusing one for women with regard to new findings that are challenging — and changing — many standard approaches to the early detection, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have played a key role in many of these headline-making studies, from the nationwide Women's Health Initiative trial that found combined hormone-replacement therapy increases the risk of invasive breast cancer, among other diseases, to the Shanghai Breast Self-Examination study, which found teaching women to do self-exams does not save lives.

Breast cancer is a complex disease, and equally complex is its diagnosis and treatment. At the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a multidisciplinary team of oncologists, surgeons, radiologists and others from Fred Hutchinson and UW Medicine take an integrated team approach to evaluating and treating people with cancer.

Fred Hutchinson and UW investigators are available to address a variety of questions related to breast cancer and women's health, including:

  • What are the breast-cancer risks of hormone-replacement therapy?

  • Are there alternatives to HRT for menopausal women concerned about breast-cancer?

  • What's the role of soy and other foods/supplements in breast-cancer prevention?

  • Does teaching women how to do breast-self-examination, or BSE, translate to lives saved from breast cancer?

  • Can moderate exercise prevent breast cancer?

  • Is there an optimal time of the month to have a mammogram?

  • When should a woman consider genetic testing for breast-cancer risk?

  • Does getting pregnant after breast cancer increase the chance of recurrence?

  • Does body weight affect a woman's prognosis once she gets breast cancer?

  • Does working the night shift increase breast-cancer risk?

  • Do antiperspirants increase the risk of breast cancer or is this just a myth?

  • Are mammograms the only option for breast-cancer screening in healthy women?

  • Do race and ethnicity significantly impact a woman's breast-cancer risk and treatment experience?

  • What's new on the treatment horizon?

  • What new tools are available for staging breast cancer?

  • What can a woman do to help in the fight against breast cancer?

Also available for interviews are several breast-cancer survivors, including a mother and daughter who were both treated for breast cancer at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, as well as several participants from Fred Hutchinson breast-cancer prevention studies.

Media Contacts
Kristen Woodward
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(206) 667-5095

Susan Edmonds
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
(206) 667-2896

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home of two Nobel Prize laureates, is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the development and advancement of biomedical technology to eliminate cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. Fred Hutchinson receives more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other independent U.S. research center. Recognized internationally for its pioneering work in bone-marrow transplantation, the center's four scientific divisions collaborate to form a unique environment for conducting basic and applied science. Fred Hutchinson, in collaboration with its clinical and research partners, the University of Washington Academic Medical Center and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Pacific Northwest and is one of 38 nationwide. For more information, visit the center's Web site at

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, established in 1998, unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care services of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. A major focus of the SCCA is to speed the transfer of new diagnostic and treatment techniques from the research setting to the patient bedside while providing premier, patient-focused cancer care. Patients who come to the SCCA receive the latest research-based cancer therapies as well as cutting-edge treatments for a number of non-malignant diseases under development by its partner organizations. The SCCA has three clinical-care sites: an outpatient clinic on the Fred Hutchinson campus, a pediatric-inpatient unit at Children's and an adult-inpatient unit at UW Medical Center. For more information about the SCCA, visit