The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund is a charity that helps children and adults reduce their risks of getting all types of cancer, and assists them in choosing the safest and most effective treatments. It is the main program of the National Center for Health Research.
To read about our accomplishments this year, and our goals for the coming year, please see the following Making a Measurable Difference
How Does the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund Work?
Everyday, researchers are studying ways to prevent and treat cancer more effectively. But, not all that information gets to the people who need it the most.
When you see TV health news, most of that medical information was provided by pharmaceutical companies and others who have a product or treatment to sell. Even if they talk about ways to prevent cancer, it usually involves a treatment they hope to profit from. They have PR people working night and day to get those stories on TV and the Internet and in newspapers across the country.
The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund is a life-saving program of the National Center for Health Research, a nonprofit research and education organization that promotes the health and safety of adults and children.
We don’t take money from companies that sell medical treatments. Instead, we compile all the scientific evidence and determine what works best, either for prevention or treatment.
For example, if you want to prevent breast cancer, would you rather take a pill that reduces your chances of breast cancer but increases your risk of endometrial cancer and stroke? Or would it make more sense to take 15 minutes of your day to make small changes in your diet or do some simple exercises that could be just as effective at lowering your risk of breast cancer and also lower your risk of colon cancer and heart disease at the same time?
Not everything works for everyone. Maybe you just can’t find 15 minutes today to do simple exercises while watching TV, and maybe you don’t want to keep your child’s weight down by substituting his favorite soda (80 calories per 8-oz glass) for lemonade (120 calories per glass)–unfortunately, both have zero nutritional value. That’s why we offer a lot of different information so that you can find the strategies that are best for you to prevent and treat cancer.
Here are just a few of the strategies we use to get information out to as many people as possible, about ways to prevent and treat cancer most effectively.
- You can contact our free online health hotline with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
- We develop free online continuing medical education courses for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Most continuing medical education courses are developed by pharmaceutical companies, and that can bias the content. Ours are developed without funding from any companies with a financial interest in the content.
- We develop free booklets and DVDs for patients and their family members, to help them have the information they need to get the best possible treatment. Rather than just saying, “ask your doctor,” we give them the information they need to talk to their doctor about their options.
- We get dangerous chemicals banned from our homes. You shouldn’t have to be a scientist every time you go shopping to figure out which products are safe for your family. Last year, we got dangerous chemicals banned from pacifiers, teething rings, and children’s toys and now we are working to persuade the FDA to ensure that chemicals are safe before they can be used in food containers, and working with other agencies to reduce toxic exposures in our homes.
What about people who already have cancer? We have heard from so many women and men who are unhappy with the cancer treatment they received. Here are two examples.
Did you know that many women lose their breasts to mastectomies they don’t need? One reason is that mastectomies are cheaper than less radical surgeries that would be equally effective in helping them live long and healthy lives?
Julie was told she had “pre-cancerous” breasts. Terrified, she had both her breasts removed. Six surgeries later, she called us. We determined that the cysts that doctors thought were pre-cancerous actually were not. We helped her think through her medical options and helped her tell her story to millions of women and hundreds of health professionals, so that this won’t happen to other women.
Every year more than 260,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer or “pre-cancerous” conditions that may never become cancer. Experts agree that most of these women do not need mastectomies, but tens of thousands will get mastectomies anyway. Some will undergo a mastectomy because the surgery is less expensive than lumpectomy-a decision made by their HMO, not by them. Some will be so frightened by the word “cancer” that they will make a quick treatment decision they may later regret. Worse yet, their doctors may not tell them the most up-to-date advice about how to prevent cancer from coming back without radical surgery.
Men are also getting unnecessary cancer surgery. For example, experts agree that the treatment for very early prostate cancer has life-changing risks which may outweigh the benefits.
Michael has had annual prostate cancer screening for years, since it was recommended by his doctor. Unfortunately, his doctor didn’t realize that many experts no longer recommend annual prostate cancer screenings. At the age of 75, Michael felt young and healthy but his PSA test showed a possible problem. Michael quickly underwent surgery, which resulted in loss of bladder control and erectile dysfunction. Feeling depressed, he went to a different doctor for help. That’s when he was told he hadn’t needed the surgery that had made him so unhappy.
Annual screening is rarely a good idea for prostate cancer, and experts say that men over 75 don’t need screening at all. But every year, millions of men undergo prostate cancer screening and many get bad news (which is not always accurate). In addition, most men don’t know that they can lower the risk of prostate cancer by changing their eating habits. (And, it might also be a good idea to take your cell phone out of your pants pocket).
Our goal for this year: 10,000 fewer unnecessary mastectomies and prostate cancer surgeries. If men and women knew what experts know about the risks and benefits of these surgeries, only those patients who really need them would undergo the procedures.
The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund helps people lower their risks for all kinds of cancer-including new cancers and recurrence of cancers you’ve already been treated for. Whether we are getting dangerous chemicals out of the furniture, carpeting, or toys in your home, or helping you reduce the radiation from your cell phone, we are making sure you can cut through the hype on new medical treatments, and we are helping millions of Americans everyday.