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Cancer survivor Wasserman Schultz joins Higgins, Roswell Park to highlight progress, next steps in cancer prevention, treatment

by jmaloni


Wed, May 14th 2014 12:30 pm
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Congressional leaders tour Roswell Park's Center for personalized medicine; recognize National Women's Health Week

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins recognized National Women's Health Week with a tour of Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Center for Personalized Medicine and a discussion about the future of cancer treatment and prevention.

"Particularly during National Women's Health Week, it is a great honor to have visited the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and toured the Center for Personalized Medicine," Wasserman Schultz said. "As a breast cancer survivor and carrier of the BRCA-2 gene mutation, I am very interested in more personalized and specialized forms of care for cancer patients. It is clear from what I've heard and seen today that whatever the future of cancer care may be in this country, Roswell will be helping lead the way toward it through cutting edge research and innovation in both treatment and prevention."

Higgins said, "Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz is a true champion for important national issues on Capitol Hill, and I'm pleased to have her join me here in Buffalo. Her strength as a fighter for what is good for Americans is matched only by her strength, and that of so many others, who've faced cancer."

Wasserman Schultz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Following extensive testing, treatment and surgeries, today she is a proud survivor and strong advocate in the fight against cancer in the House of Representatives.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women during their lives. In 2009, Wasserman Schultz sponsored the EARLY Act - the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act - aimed at teaching women and medical professionals about breast cancer risk factors and warning signs. The EARLY Act was included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act and today provides additional tools to raise breast cancer awareness.

During their visit to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the congress members toured the Center for Personalized Medicine. Opened in 2012, the CPM uses state-of-the-art gene sequencing technologies to develop targeted medical therapies tailored to an individual's unique genetic characteristics. Roswell Park was the first cancer center in the U.S. and is recognized by the National Cancer Institute as one of only 41 designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation.

"Historically and still today, many patients are treated using a standard of what works best for most," said Higgins, a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus. "While we have certainly seen great progress over the years, new technology - like that we see here at Roswell Park Cancer Institute - and a better scientific understanding of how genes respond to treatment is now providing us with a very exciting opportunity to base treatment on what will work best for an individual specifically based on their genetic characteristics. The cost of cancer to this nation is great in terms of both human suffering and medical expenses. The next step in cancer treatment leading to better outcomes is a serious national focus and investment in personalized medicine."

One of the projects underway at Roswell Park's Center for Personalized Medicine involves research aimed at predicting which of the two main types of chemotherapy will be most effective in treating a woman's breast cancer with the fewest side effects.

"Building on our longstanding genomic capabilities and leveraging New York state's investment, Roswell Park is bringing the promise of next-generation medicine to cancer patients today," said Donald L. Trump, M.D., RPCI president and CEO. "The work in the (CPM) ranges from clinical research studies examining which therapy will be most effective for a particular patient to development of diagnostic tests and systems for managing and appropriately sharing genomic data. It all adds up to smarter, more effective therapies, and we're making swift progress on all fronts."

Wasserman Schultz was born and raised in Long Island and currently represents South Florida's 23rd District, which includes portions of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Like Higgins, she began her service in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005.

May 11-17 is recognized as National Women's Health Week. For more information on women's health issues, visit www.womenshealth.gov.

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