Program Aimed at Improving Breast Cancer Outcomes In Medically Underserved and Rural Areas
NEW YORK – September 15, 2011 – A new partnership between the world’s largest breast cancer organization and GE could dramatically improve breast cancer outcomes for women in rural areas and developing countries, and exemplifies the commitment that will be needed to end cancer on a global scale, the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, said today.
Brinker and GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt announced a three-year partnership as GE also launched a major global initiative to accelerate innovation and improve cancer care for 10 million people worldwide by 2020. The GE initiative includes $1 billion for research and development for cancer detection and treatment technology, and another $100 million made available through an open innovation challenge to find and fund ideas for better breast cancer diagnostics.
“Ending cancer will require the best thinkers and doers of the private and public sector, working together in creative and innovative ways,” Brinker said. “We’re very encouraged by all that we can accomplish for the women of the world through this partnership, and very grateful for the dedication and commitment of the people of GE.”
Some 1.4 million women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide this year, and almost half a million women are expected to die from the disease. Brinker, who also serves as U.S. Global Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the World Health Organization, said the impact of cancer on world economies was estimated at $895 billion in 2008.
“We envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease,” Immelt said. “Through the combination of GE’s integrated cancer technologies and the convening of new partners and data sources, we see a new formula for tackling cancer. We think there is a better way and we are committed to driving toward it with partners like Susan G. Komen for the Cure.”
The GE/Komen partnership is focused on breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide, with initiatives launching first in rural Wyoming, Saudi Arabia and China. The goal is to develop and implement programs that can eventually be used worldwide.
Brinker said that in some rural regions of the U.S., women may face hours of travel time to get to a mammography center for a breast screening.
In low-resource countries, lack of education about the disease, lack of medical resources and social stigma around breast cancer may make women more reluctant to seek screenings or to seek help when they first notice symptoms. As a result, many arrive for treatment at late stages of the disease.
“This is a significant barrier to women’s health in these regions, and women are needlessly dying as a result,” she said. “We have a 98 percent five-year survival rate for breast cancers caught and treated early in the West, so there is absolutely no question that we must invest in programs and technologies that give all of the world’s women a fighting chance against this disease.”
Wyoming, Saudi Arabia and China were chosen as pilot sites for the partnership based on need and opportunities to develop new strategies to improve screening rates worldwide.
- Wyoming: By taking an innovative approach to mobile mammography and applying a digital twist to appointment bookings, GE is partnering with Susan G. Komen and a number of in-state organizations, to help Wyoming address the challenges associated with being one of the most rural states in the U.S.
- Saudi Arabia: GE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health established a mutual partnership aimed at increasing access to breast cancer screening. GE will develop and deploy two mobile screening units in Riyadh City with the goal of screening 10,000 women within the first twelve months with a plan to start in October 2011. It’s also reaching out to leading universities to launch an open innovation challenge for Saudi women in an effort to identify sustainable methods for improving breast cancer screening in the country. Komen has been actively engaged in education and outreach programs in Saudi Arabia through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness and the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.
- China: GE, Komen and partners will launch a broad outreach program later this year in the Guangdong Province aimed at raising awareness of and compliance with breast cancer screening procedures. The program will develop a local model to improve education and breast screening in rural areas.
Komen has long made breast cancer screening a priority, paying for 700,000 screenings for low-income and uninsured women in the U.S. last year alone and for breast health education programs that reached millions. Komen has also aggressively funded research to find more sensitive and cost-effective screening platforms.
The organization also advocates for global health leaders to focus on cancer control as an economic and social priority, launching the Komen Global Health Alliance in 2010 to convene world leaders, healthcare providers and non-governmental organizations to develop cancer education and control programs. Komen now has global partnerships in more than 50 countries.