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Breast cancer’s pink elephant

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Breast cancer survivor Molly Ross was diagnosed at the young age of 31 after a routine self-breast exam. 

She is now a vocal supporter of early detection and preventive care.

Ross and OU Medical Center Oncologist Wajeeha Razaq are thrilled with the strides made to identify the early signs of breast cancer.  

They are also realistic about something cancer survivors refer to as the Pink Elephant in the room. 

Razaq said the shocking statistic is that more than 30 percent of cancer survivors will get cancer again. 

"Most of the time the cancer comes back in areas like bones, lungs and liver and if it comes back in those areas, it's not curable," she said.

Razaq said there is no doubt there is an area that lacks funding and research.

"To be honest, most of our approaches right now is how we can make the cure of the breast cancer when it is initially diagnosed better and how we can make our approach to a patient that has stage-four disease," she said. "In between there is a lot of lack of clinical studies. I mean, there are no randomized studies. So that area needs to be evolved more."

Currently it's estimated only about 2 percent of research money goes toward metastatic cancer.

Ross said the strides made in breast cancer research have been huge but there is so much more to do.

"So much of the focus is on early detections but what happens when it comes back?"

Currently about $1.5 billion is spent on breast cancer research. 

Most of it goes toward early detection and prevention.