Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton’s (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) legislation to better fund community-based groups which provide counseling, education and outreach services to breast cancer patients has been signed by the governor (Chapter 623 of 2007). The law is vital to ensure funding for community groups, such as the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance, through the Breast Cancer Detection and Advisory Council.
"The measure builds a network of support for persons diagnosed with breast cancer to answer questions about the illness, treatment and prognosis and to lessen the physical and emotional stress they face," Lifton said. "Breast cancer patients have to be informed and involved throughout their lives to guard against reoccurrence. This law will establish the funding to help organizations monitor the ongoing health of breast cancer patients, even after remission."
Unlike most cancers, breast cancer may recur 10, 20, or 30 years after the original diagnosis, requiring a lifetime of vigilant monitoring. New York State has committed significant resources to breast cancer research and early detection, but there are few state-supported initiatives addressing the post-diagnosis needs of tens of thousands of women and men in New York State who live with the disease.
Diagnosis rates for breast cancer have increased, although deaths from the disease have decreased. The decline in the mortality rate is likely due to early detection and improved treatment. Still, the disease kills thousands. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 40,460 women and 450 men will lose their lives this year to breast cancer. "If we can augment our present care with additional counseling, we might be able to save one more life, one family member or friend," Lifton said. "We have to try."
"This is one of the first laws in New York which will address the post-diagnosis needs of tens of thousands of New York State women who are living with breast cancer" Lifton said. “This law will help save lives."