THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
NATIONAL BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, 1998
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
For the millions of us who have lost loved ones to breast cancer, this annual observance brings with it both sorrow and hope -- sorrow that medical breakthroughs came too late to save a beloved relative or friend, and hope that new efforts in research, prevention, and treatment will protect other families from suffering the impact of this devastating disease. Recent declines in the rate of breast cancer deaths among American women reflect the progress we have made in early detection and improved treatment. But it is urgent that we continue to build on that progress. This year alone, another 180,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed, and some 44,000 women will die from the disease.
We are waging America's crusade against breast cancer on many fronts. Spearheading the effort is the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer (NAPBC) -- the product of a conference convened by Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Donna Shalala that included advocates, women with breast cancer, their families, clinicians, researchers, members of Congress, educators, and the media. The NAPBC is helping to coordinate the national response to breast cancer by fostering communication, cooperation, and collaboration among experts both inside and outside of the Government.
The lead Government agency conducting breast cancer research and control programs is the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at HHS. By developing an index of genes involved in breast and other cancers, the NCI is improving our understanding of the disease at the molecular level. Research into the relationship between breast cancer and genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 is helping us to better comprehend how the disease develops, allowing researchers to understand more precisely the risk of breast cancer caused by mutations in these genes. The most encouraging advance thus far in prevention research came from the landmark Breast Cancer Prevention Trial. This study, a national clinical trial sponsored by the NCI, found that women at high risk for breast cancer reduced that risk by taking the drug tamoxifen, demonstrating that breast cancer can actually be prevented. The NCI is now developing an educational program to help physicians and patients decide who should consider taking tamoxifen.
Researchers are also making advances in breast cancer treatment and have found ways to combine chemotherapy drugs to make treatment more effective for patients whose cancer has spread. Drugs have also been developed to alleviate some of the side effects of chemotherapy. But these breakthroughs in cancer research and treatment can only help if women are informed about them. During this month, I invite all Americans to take part in our national effort to save lives. Let us join together to make sure that women and their families hear the message about the importance of screening and early detection, receive recommended screening mammograms, and have access to appropriate treatment. We have won important battles in our war on breast cancer, and we have cause to celebrate; nevertheless, we must remain focused on gaining the ultimate victory -- an America free from breast cancer.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 1998 as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I call upon government officials, businesses, communities, health care professionals, educators, volunteers, and all the people of the United States to publicly reaffirm our Nation's strong and continuing commitment to controlling and curing breast cancer.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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