Avon Foundation Breast Imaging Center and Research Lab Open at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center

Screenings for Underserved Women and Innovative Breast Cancer Research<br /><br />$16 Million in Gifts from Avon Foundation Since 2000

Jul 26, 2006


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center today announced the dedication of the Avon Foundation Breast Imaging Center and the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Research Laboratory – two key components of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Program, supported by gifts from the Avon Foundation totaling $16 million since 2000. The two facilities will provide access to screening and diagnostic services to underserved and uninsured women; and conduct innovative basic science research focused on better understanding the underlying mechanisms of the disease, meeting the Avon Foundation mission to advance access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, with a focus on the medically underserved.

Located in the Irving Cancer Research Center Building at 1130 Saint Nicholas Avenue at West 166th Street in Manhattan's diverse Washington Heights neighborhood, the street-level Breast Imaging Center and fourth-floor Research Laboratory celebrate their official dedication today.

"On behalf of both Avon and the Avon Foundation, I am so proud that these two new breast cancer facilities will help women access care and help researchers seek a possible prevention and cure," says Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO of Avon Products Inc. and a member of the board of trustees of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "The Avon Foundation has partnered with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center for over five years, and we share the mission to ensure quality care for all women as we work toward the day when breast cancer will be eradicated. I would like to especially acknowledge the participants in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer events and our Avon Sales Representatives who are fearless fund-raisers in the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade."

"Our Hospital is grateful for the generosity and vision of the Avon Foundation, whose long-standing commitment to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ultimate eradication of this terrible disease is making a tangible difference where it is needed the most: by educating and screening thousands of underserved women in our community," says Herbert Pardes, M.D., president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "NewYork-Presbyterian and Avon share a passionate commitment to improved prevention, screening, diagnosis and care for all women who fight breast cancer."

"Support from the Avon Foundation has led directly to new insights into the causes of breast cancer," says Lee Goldman, M.D., executive vice president of Columbia University and dean of the faculties of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. "We and the Avon Foundation are proud of how their support has greatly enhanced our outstanding research and clinical progress at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center."

"There is a new diagnosis of breast cancer in the U.S. every three minutes, and more than 40,000 Americans will lose their lives to the disease this year," says Carol Kurzig, executive director of the Avon Foundation. "The Avon Foundation is committed to helping change these statistics here in New York City, across the U.S. and around the world, and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center are invaluable partners in this fight."

"The fight against breast cancer requires a systematic approach that integrates insights from basic science and clinical care. Both components are essential in forming our scientists and cancer specialists," says Riccardo Dalla-Favera, M.D., director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian, and the Joanne and Percy Uris Professor of Pathology and Genetics and Development at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Clinical research is also supported through Avon Scholars in Women's Health grants to fund training in women's health and to study barriers to follow-up care in medically underserved populations.

Avon Foundation Breast Imaging Center

For many years, the Avon Foundation has supported NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center in clinical and basic-science research and community outreach and screening programs focused on underserved and underinsured women in the Washington Heights and Inwood communities, providing more than 25,000 women access to mammography and diagnostic screening. The HICCC, one of only three NIH-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in New York State, is one of 10 flagship cancer centers across the United States that have received more than $100 million in funds from the Foundation since 2000. The Hospital is the medical sponsor of the New York City Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, providing medical services for the thousands of walkers in the annual event.

The newly dedicated Avon Breast Imaging Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia offers patients state-of-the-art screening and diagnostic technology, including digital mammography, ultrasound-guided core biopsy, stereotactic-core needle biopsy, and a mammography reporting system (MRS) to track patient history and facilitate timely follow-up.

Set in a supportive, private and comfortable environment, the Center also features bilingual staffing and an onsite resource center that offers written, video and electronic information in English and Spanish about breast cancer and other women's health issues. A full-time nurse "patient navigator" will support patients as they find their way in a complex health care system and help them overcome any barriers to care.

Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Research Laboratory

The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at Columbia University Medical Center is a state-of-the-art facility that aims to better understand genetic pathways involved in breast cancer, and how to control these to prevent or stop the progression of cancer.

The laboratory is under the leadership of Ramon Parsons, M.D., Ph.D., Avon Associate Professor of Pathology and Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. In 1997, Dr. Parsons discovered PTEN, one of the most important tumor suppressor genes altered in breast cancer, as well as in brain and prostate cancers.

"Our breast cancer program would not be where it is today without the generous support and partnership of the Avon Foundation," says Dr. Parsons. "With Avon's help, we are studying the molecular and genetic changes that occur in human breast tumors in order to find improved ways to detect and treat the disease."

In 2006, Dr. Parsons was named director of the Breast Cancer Program of the HICCC, with co-director Dawn Hershman, M.D., M.S., the Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center and assistant attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. The program aims to enhance collaboration between researchers with basic science, clinical and public health expertise.

Clinical Research and Community Outreach

The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Program supports clinical research and community outreach through the Recruitment Core.

An essential element of the program, the Recruitment Core initiative supports educational outreach to underserved patients treated at the surgical and medical oncology clinics of the Hospital and funds educational programs for community and health-care professionals. Educational efforts focus on the importance of screening and self-examination.

Additionally, in partnership with community and faith-based organizations, the Recruitment Core enrolls patients in clinical trials. To date, the initiative has recruited more than 300 participants to 25 studies, including those focused on new approaches toward prevention and treatment; barriers to prevention and disparities in care; and environmental factors and genetic susceptibility.

For more information, patients may call 800-NYP-NEWS.

Breast Cancer Prevention

Seventy percent of all breast cancers are found through breast self-exams. All women should examine their breasts monthly. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a breast exam by their doctor or nurse at least once every two years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam each year. It is important for patients to see their doctor right away if they notice a change in their breast, such as a lump, skin irritation or redness, nipple discharge, or a sudden change in the nipple, such as inversion.

Patients age 40 or older should have a mammogram every year. Alternately, if patients have a family history of breast cancer, their physician may recommend having mammograms at a younger age. A mammogram, an X-ray of breast tissue, can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your doctor can feel them. Mammograms are safe and use very low levels of radiation. If the findings indicate an abnormality, patients will be contacted right away.

If the clinical breast exam or mammogram is abnormal, a breast ultrasound may be recommended. This imaging test uses sound waves that pass through the skin to create an image of the inside of the breast. Even though more than 80 percent of breast lumps are not cancer, a biopsy is the only way to know for sure. If the diagnosis is cancer, patients are referred to the Comprehensive Breast Center, a program of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, and have access to board-certified specialists in the treatment of breast cancer.

Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia encompasses pre-clinical and clinical research, treatment, prevention and education efforts in cancer. The Cancer Center was initially funded by the NCI in 1972 and became an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in 1979. The designation recognizes the Center's collaborative environment and expertise in harnessing translational research to bridge scientific discovery to clinical delivery, with the ultimate goal of successfully introducing novel diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive approaches to cancer.

The Avon Foundation

The Avon Foundation, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade launched in 1992, and Avon has supported breast cancer programs in some 50 countries. Through 2005, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade raised and awarded more than $400 million worldwide for access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, with a focus on the medically underserved. Funding supports five areas: awareness and education; screening and diagnosis; access to treatment; support services; and scientific research. Beneficiaries range from leading cancer centers to community-based non-profit breast health programs, creating a powerful international network of research, medical, social service and community-based organizations focused on defeating breast cancer and ensuring access to care. For more information, visit www.avonfoundation.org.

Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and public health professionals at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – based in New York City – is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,344 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. It ranks among the top 10 in U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals," has the greatest number of physicians listed in New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue, and is included among Solucient's top 15 major teaching hospitals. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Media Contact:

Nancy Gautier-Matos