Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among female service members, who constitute about 20 percent of the U.S. military. The Department of Defense (DoD) is understandably concerned about this prevalence in its commitment to health care, as well as to force readiness. Therefore, prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment, and continuing care all represent key areas of DoD-sponsored research. President Biden has also recently called attention to cancer research with the White House initiative known as Cancer Moonshot.
As part of its mission to advance military medicine, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF) supports the John P. Murtha Cancer Center (MCC) and its clinical work at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). In addition, the MCC Research Program, which is located at the Uniformed Services University and supported by HJF, currently hosts three Congressionally-directed translational cancer research programs: the Center for Prostate Disease Research, the GYN Cancer Center of Excellence, and the Breast Cancer Translational Research Center.
“We are especially proud of our work with the MCC—the only DoD center of excellence for cancer care—and their commitment to reducing all cancers,” says Dr. Joseph Caravalho, HJF President and CEO. “By coordinating national and international collaboration among military and civilian researchers, HJF assists the MCC, the MCC Research Program, and the Breast Cancer Translational Research Center in innovative cancer research.”
The Breast Cancer Translational Research Center is a public-private partnership among HJF, the Windber Research Institute in Pennsylvania, and WRNMMC. It collaborates with the National Cancer Institute’s Genome Atlas and other organizations to study biomarkers in archival breast cancer tissue and houses the largest biorepository of high-quality human breast specimens.
Much of its work is related to the APOLLO (Applied Proteogenomics OrganizationaL Learning and Outcomes) consortium formed by the DoD, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Cancer Institute, which was prompted by the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative. Researchers with the MCC Research Program are rapidly identifying unique targets and pathways of cancer for detection and intervention. This state-of-the-art research, which involves combining protein and gene analyses from patient specimens, is known as proteogenomics.
Recently the MCC received a full three-year accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, which praised the Breast Cancer Translational Research Center: “This is a superlative breast center, an incredibly well-organized military-based hospital with marriage of completely patient centered approach, top-notch specialists, adherence to evidence-based guidelines, combined with on-site breast cancer research center. On top of all that, their team members are devoted, proud of their accomplishments, enthusiastic about their work, and truly delightful and personable group! 5 Star facility—the best I have surveyed to date.”
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HJF for the past several years has partnered with Leonardo DRS to support breast cancer research through the “Stick It 2 Cancer” initiative. Donations will support the MCC and its “Look Good, Feel Better” program that helps breast cancer patients take action to deal with the side effects of their treatment.
“Breast cancer treatment is stressful for patients on so many levels,” said Dr. Caravalho. “As a link between military medicine and private industry, HJF gets Leonardo DRS’s generous donation to both help patients during such a challenging time and also to support ongoing breast cancer research.”
If you would like to make a donation to support breast cancer research, please visit hjf.org/cancer.