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DoD Conference to Examine Breast Cancer Issues

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 1998 – Military health care professionals will meet in San Diego Sept. 15-17 to discuss integrated approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Dr. Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and other senior DoD health officials and the service surgeons general, are slated to speak at the conference. Several breast cancer survivors also are scheduled to share their treatment experiences.

Medics from DoD health care facilities worldwide will discuss a range of patient treatment models and learn firsthand about new ways to provide breast health care. Innovations they'll learn about include:

  • A regional breast cancer center at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
  • Breast cancer centers of excellence at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
  • "Teleregional" breast cancer care (the use of videoteleconferencing and other telemedicine methods) at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii.
  • Psycho-social issues in Europe, the Pacific and TRICARE Region 10 (California).
  • Ways to involve families and spouses in education, counseling and treatment efforts across the military health system.##

They'll learn about including psychological counseling during initial breast cancer assessments. And they'll hear from specialists on chemotherapy, post-mastectomy radiation and prophylactic surgery.

The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer has gone from one case in every 20 women two decades ago to one in eight women today, according to health care officials. They said 350,000 women in the active and reserve military today make breast cancer an important readiness issue.

The military health system cares for more than 2 million women - - in uniform and family members -- who are age 30 or older, the group most at risk of developing breast cancer. The fiscal 1998 defense health plan allocated $25 million for breast cancer prevention, education and diagnosis.

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