Dr. Marisa Weiss, a leading breast oncologist and president and founder of Breastcancer.org, has pioneered a program aimed at preventing breast cancer by introducing the national conversation on breast health to girls and young women at schools across the country.
Puberty is the time of life when a girl’s breasts are most vulnerable. Growing tissues are more sensitive than full grown breasts to damage from environmental toxins. Nutrients and environmental elements – the food, beverages, and air a girl takes in – become the building blocks for her new breast tissue, forming the foundation of her future breast health. Girls are also often very fearful of breast cancer. Part of their concern is realistic; however, it is often compounded by popular myths and misinformation about the true causes of breast cancer and a near total absence of knowledge of effective breast cancer risk reduction and prevention strategies.
There has been an explosion of information about cancer risk reduction and a growing body of evidence that the adoption of healthier lifestyles and reduction of environmental pollutants will allow us to reduce breast cancer risk. However, more research is needed to determine how this information can best lead to meaningful behavioral changes in the greatest number of people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures
Dr. Weiss through the Prevention/Risk Reduction Initiative is deeply committed to reaching girls and young women with empowering messages so that healthy behaviors are established early in life when they can have the most beneficial effect. Dr. Weiss talks openly with girls about breast development and the complex health and emotional issues associated with this vulnerable period in a girl’s life. The programs are a definitive step in making breast health promotion and breast cancer prevention a reality.
Dr. Weiss’s research and findings will inform the development and implementation of new programs, materials, content, technologies, and marketing approaches for delivering critical information girls need to appropriately change their behavior. A school assembly component of the program will focus on ongoing research and program development. Three types of evaluation data will be collected, analyzed, and utilized: 1) formative data from the pilot programs will be used to inform program and product development, 2) process evaluation data will be used to determine the extent to which program objectives are attained, and 3) summative evaluation will be used to determine the extent to which the girls program is effective on several levels, i.e. changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior.
The goal is to raise awareness and create a movement similar to the current obesity prevention program. Over the course of the Prevention/Risk Reduction Initiative, millions of girls and adults will be reached with Dr. Weiss’s breast cancer risk reduction messages.
Dr. Marisa Weiss is an oncologist in active practice for over 20 years within an academic institutional setting. Dr. Weiss created the organization breastcancer.org in response to her patients’ day and night need for accessible, reliable, and responsible medical information on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment options. She has served a 6-year term on the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Director’s Consumer Liaison Group representing the interests and rights of patients in NCI activities and is a member of a number of professional societies including the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology and is the recipient of . Dr. Weiss makes frequent appearances on national television and is the renowned author of Living Beyond Breast Cancer (1998 and revision in 2009), 7 Minutes!: How to Get the Most from Your Doctor Visit (2007), and the highly acclaimed, upcoming primer about breast health, Taking Care of Your “Girls:” A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens (September 2008).