Cannes, France — Who is your gynecologist? When was your last period?Those are questions that no woman would be surprised to hear from her doctor, but they’re also the standard screener for people diagnosed with breast cancer. If you’re a man diagnosed with breast cancer, the answers to those questions just don’t exist. And being asked only adds to the pain and discomfort of the diagnosis.


Alan M. Blassberg, Director, Producer of Pink & Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer; Ed Lang, Senior Director and founding sponsor of The Lung Cancer Project at Genentech; and Laura Schoen, President of Global Health at Weber Shandwick, took the stage at Lions Health to talk about bias in healthcare: the underlying beliefs that lead us to treat people unfairly in healthcare (and everywhere else).

A few key health data points that might change your mind about what normal is and what unconscious biases we might all have:

  • More men than women are dying of breast cancer
  • Younger women are 2x more likely to die of a heart attack than younger men
  • HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age
  • Nearly two-thirds of the 450 people living with a mental health disorder never seek treatment
  • Health professionals who exhibit an implicit weight bias endorse obesity stereotypes such as lazy, stupid and worthless

Or, and, here’s another: 50 – 60% of people diagnosed with lung cancer aren’t smokers.

Very few are told to fight. They’re told to go home and be with their families. They’re left feeling like it’s their fault. It’s why Genentech funded the Lung Cancer Project.


It’s built on a test that can test people’s unconscious bias. You can see the mass results of the test and their vision for the future at Lung Cancer Project.

One other note: If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss Blassberg’s documentary. The stories of gender bias in hereditary cancer are heartbreaking. As one man says, “I have breast cancer like you have breast cancer.” It should be as simple as that.


About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.