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Campaign Hopes to End Disparities in Breast Cancer Care

Foundation seeks more funding for minorities

THURSDAY, April 28, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A grassroots campaign has been launched to increase awareness that breast cancer death rates for minority women in the United States are higher than for white women, and to ensure equal access to quality care for all women.

The campaign by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is meant to pressure Congress to increase funding for programs for Americans disproportionately affected by cancer. People are asked to visit the Komen Web site or to write Congress expressing their support for programs designed to end disparities in breast cancer care.

"Breast cancer is colorblind, yet mortality rates for minority women are higher than for Caucasian women," Diane L. Balma, director of public policy at the Komen Foundation and a breast cancer survivor, said in a prepared statement. "All women, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, deserve a fighting chance to survive this terrible disease. That is why we are asking citizens to use our Web site to write Congress in support of programs aimed at ending breast cancer disparities."

The overall breast cancer death rate in the United States has declined over the past decade, but the breast cancer death rate for minority women has not dropped at the same pace. Barriers to access to quality care are largely responsible for these disparities, according to the Komen Foundation.

The foundation noted that:

  • Even though they have a lower incidence rate of breast cancer, African-American women have a 32 percent higher death rate than Caucasian women.
  • Among women of Hispanic origin, breast cancer is more frequently diagnosed at a later stage, when there are fewer treatment options available.
  • In the United States, 48.5 of Asian and Pacific Islander women 50 years and older have had a mammogram or clinical breast exam within the last two years -- the lowest screening rate among all racial and ethnic groups.
  • A recent study found that when Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic women were provided with equal access to high-quality mammogram screening, all three groups had similar breast cancer survival rates.

More information

The Komen Foundation Web site has information on the letter-writing campaign.

SOURCE: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation news release, April 14, 2005
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