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CONFRONTING CANCER; Advocates Strive to Defeat Cancer but Disagree on Methods

Title: CONFRONTING CANCER; Advocates Strive to Defeat Cancer but Disagree on Methods

Author: Sheryl Gay Stolberg

Publication: New York Times

Publication Date: April 9, 2002

When senators convened a hearing in February on the effectiveness of mammograms, it was only natural that they would call Fran Visco to testify.

At 54, Ms. Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, is widely regarded as Washington’s most powerful advocate for women with the disease. She has almost single-handedly persuaded lawmakers to appropriate millions for research. To do otherwise would be political suicide, they have learned from Ms. Visco and her vocal coalition of more than 600 member organizations and 70,000 people.

”For legislators,” Joann Schellenbach, a longtime official of the American Cancer Society, said, ”Fran is the spokeswoman for what they see as the advocacy community.”

But on mammography, there is little community among the advocates. Most embrace the government’s recommendation that all women older than 40 undergo routine screening. But not Ms. Visco. She and her coalition advise women to study the benefits and risks of screening and then decide for themselves.

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