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Why the Women Most Likely to Die of Breast Cancer Have Gotten the Least Attention

Lianne Kraemer had been living with metastatic breast cancer for more than a year when I met her in December 2017 at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio. Throughout the week, more than 7,000 doctors, scientists and pharmaceutical-company representatives would descend on the city for the country’s most important breast-cancer conference. Inside the main exhibition hall, it seemed that every major pharmaceutical company was putting on its best come-hither show. A pair of young, lithe dancers whipped flowing fabric through the air at a booth for the drug Faslodex, a new injectable from Astra-Zeneca used to treat women with estrogen-fueled advanced breast cancer. Novartis had free cupcakes. Tesaro, a company developing new drugs for BRCA-linked breast cancer, had Nutella-branded ice cream cones. Espresso was available at Eli Lilly, and Pfizer had put out small cups of frozen yogurt. Medtronic, a medical-device company, had breasts of raw chicken at its booth so surgeons could test the PlasmaBlade, its new soft-tissue-dissection knife.

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