WASHINGTON (Oct. 25, 2014) -- Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization supporting young women and families of all Jewish backgrounds facing breast cancer, has teamed up with Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of Sharsheret’s culturally relevant breast cancer support programs.
Breast cancer more commonly occurs in older women, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 11 percent of all new breast cancer cases in the U.S. are diagnosed in those under age 45. More than 220,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and more than 40,000 women die annually from the disease. Women of Eastern European or Ashkenazi Jewish backgrounds are at increased risk for developing the disease because of mutations found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
“Younger women confront special burdens owing to their stage in life when the risk of breast cancer may become a health concern as a result of genetics. That’s why the support offered by Sharsheret is so important,” says Rochelle Shoretz, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and founder and executive director of Sharsheret.
With new federal funding from the CDC, and in partnership with Georgetown Lombardi, Sharsheret will enhance and scale up “The LINK Program®,” which is the framework for Sharsheret’s four culturally relevant breast cancer support interventions. These include patient navigation, peer support, genetic information and consultations, and other resources for young breast cancer survivors.
Public health scientists from Georgetown Lombardi will evaluate each of Sharsheret’s support programs, equipping the organization to deliver better programs that are firmly rooted in scientific evidence and driven by the needs of young women.
“It’s important that all women--and young Jewish women in particular--learn about their family’s risk of cancer and have access to the resources they need to help prevent and control their risk,” explains Kenneth Tercyak, PhD, associate professor of oncology and pediatrics, and director of behavioral prevention research at Georgetown Lombardi.
“The multi-year collaboration between Sharsheret and Georgetown Lombardi will enhance the quality of care offered to young women living with breast cancer, and will address the gaps in national programming available to an important population with unique needs,” says Shoretz.
Since its founding in 2001, Sharsheret has responded to more than 45,000 breast cancer inquiries, involved more than 3,500 peer supporters, and presented more than 250 educational programs nationwide. Sharsheret offers a continuum of care for the Jewish community – addressing the needs of those who are concerned about the risk of breast cancer in their family, those who have been diagnosed with the disease and are undergoing treatment, and those who face issues of survivorship or recurrence. Sharsheret has launched 12 national programs, including the Peer Support Network, connecting women newly diagnosed or at high risk of developing breast cancer one-on-one with others who share similar diagnoses and experiences; Embrace, supporting women living with advanced breast cancer; Genetics for Life, addressing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer; the Ovarian Cancer Program, providing tailored resources and support for young Jewish women and families facing ovarian cancer; and Thriving Again, providing individualized support, education, and survivorship navigation for young breast cancer survivors, which was developed and funded through a three-year cooperative agreement with the CDC in 2011. For more information about Sharsheret’s programs, visit www.sharsheret.org or call (866) 474-2774.
About Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Georgetown Lombardi is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to www.lombardi.georgetown.edu.