Senator Jon Tester is taking aim at one of the leading causes of death among Montana women: breast cancer.
Tester, who recently joined the bipartisan Senate Cancer Coalition, is backing a bipartisan bill that establishes a 10-person commission to examine new strategies to defeat breast cancer by 2020.
The commission will consist of health professionals and researchers from various medical fields, as well as business representatives and breast cancer advocates. Together, they will help identify innovative research opportunities previously overlooked, recommend new ways to prevent the disease, and streamline overlapping research.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among Montana women. About 800 new cases are diagnosed in the state each year. Nationwide, nearly 40,000 women will die from the disease in 2012.
"Too many Montana women struggle to beat breast cancer and deserve our best efforts to help their fight," Tester said. "This bill clears the way for our best scientists and researchers to find a cure for cancer and improve the quality of life for women across Montana and the country."
Breast cancer rates have slightly declined over the past two decades, but less than other cancers. Eighty-five percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. It is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Montana.
Tester recently supported bipartisan legislation making it easier for women to access life-saving breast cancer screenings. He also sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration pointing out the inadequacy of mammograms as the only way to detect breast cancer for women with dense breast tissue.