New CDC Numbers Underscore Urgent Need to Reach Minorities and Uninsured Women
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jan. 27, 2012 – Officials with Susan G. Komen for the Cure hailed new government figures that found the gap between white and minority women is narrowing when it comes to breast cancer screening rates, but expressed concern that the numbers still fall short of national goals.
“We’re heartened by word that breast cancer screening rates have been relatively stable in the past decade, but more than concerned that we’re not meeting national targets for breast screenings across all population groups,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Komen founder and CEO. “These figures underscore the need for more women to get educated and get screened if we are to make progress against breast cancer, which is still the number one cancer killer of women worldwide.”
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that overall, breast cancer screening rates in 2010 were 72.4 percent, well below the national target of 81 percent in CDC’s Healthy People 2020 goals.
Brinker said the positive news in the report is that screening rates for African American women – who are often diagnosed later or with more aggressive forms of breast cancer than Caucasians – is improving at 73.4 percent. Significant challenges remain to improve screening rates among Hispanic women (69.7 percent) and Asians (64.1 percent).
The most dismal numbers came for women without insurance (38.2 percent) or women without a usual source of health care (36.2 percent).
“This gap in care for uninsured and low-income women is particularly troubling and one we have been working very hard to fill at Susan G. Komen,” Brinker said. “It’s clear that we have far more work to do for women who have no resources, no insurance, and no steady source of healthcare. They need our help the most.”
Brinker said Komen for the Cure provided funds for more than 700,000 breast screenings for low-resource women in 2011, through programs with 2,000 community partners providing breast cancer education, health care, social support and financial aid. Since Komen’s founding in 1982, the organization has raised and funded more than $1.3 billion to community health programs across the U.S. through its network of 120-plus Affiliates.
Komen also provides special outreach to African American women through its Circle of Promise program, and to Hispanics through a new initiative, Lazos que Perduran, launched this year.
Komen’s Advocacy Alliance and Komen Affiliates have also been staunch advocates to continue or restore funding for low-income women through state programs and through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
“We know that when women are reached early, educated about their risks and helped into screening, we can save a lot of lives,” Brinker said. “Death rates from breast cancer have dropped 31 percent in 20 years – largely the result of early detection coupled with better treatments. Five-year survival rates are now 99 percent from early stage breast cancers. We can save many, many women if we can get them educated, screened, and helped through treatment.”
More than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year, with almost 40,000 deaths expected. Worldwide, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women, with almost half a million women expected to die of the disease this year.