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Susan G. Komen's California Affiliates Launch Statewide Initiative Focusing on African American Women's Breast Health

Release Courtesy of Komen's California Affiliates

Sacramento, California - May 7, 2014 - Today, the seven Susan G. Komen Affiliates in California joined together to launch an intensive statewide initiative focusing on African-American Women’s breast health.  During a news conference with the California Legislative Black Caucus and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, it was announced that Komen’s California Affiliates will collaborate on a best practice model to address breast cancer disparities at both the system and individual levels, specifically focusing on African-American women who are rarely or never screened, low-income, uninsured or recipients of Medi-Cal.

Across the nation, white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but African American women are 41 percent more likely to die from breast cancer.  And in Los Angeles, the mortality rate is an astonishing 70 percent higher.  For women without health coverage, the burden is even greater – uninsured women have a 30 to 50 percent increased risk of dying from breast cancer than those with insurance.

“This alarming trend is likely the result of compounding social, cultural, financial and geographic barriers, and is simply unacceptable in light of the overall improvement in breast cancer mortality rates since the 1990s,” said Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-South Los Angeles) Chair, California's Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), Chair, Select Committee on Women and Inequality. “We need to stand together to change this alarming disparity.” Mitchell will be the keynote speaker at the press conference.

This Komen initiative in California seeks to serve diverse, underserved communities with high breast cancer mortality rates by providing community organization and direct education, as well as enabling screening and navigation services, and targeted marketing and awareness.

“All women and men, regardless of race, ethnicity, place of residence or socio-economic status, should be empowered to take personal action and access appropriate breast health services.  However, many women still face barriers to screening, diagnosis and treatment services,” said Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S., Susan G. Komen president and CEO. “Through innovative ideas and collaboration, Komen’s California Affiliates will make a significant impact on the lives of women and men across the state, and ultimately, save lives.” 

When found in its earliest stages, before is has spread beyond the breast, breast cancer in the United States has a 5-year relative survival rate of 99 percent.  But a woman has to have access and utilize the appropriate screening tests in order to find breast cancer early – that’s what this initiative is all about.  Komen’s seven California Affiliates will work together to address breast cancer disparities through efforts with both health care systems and individuals, specifically targeting African-American women who are rarely or never screened, low-income and uninsured/underinsured women, as well as recipients of Medi-Cal.   The initiative’s goal is to help 2,000 rarely or never-screened African-American women to find a medical home, and to motivate them to seek regular breast cancer screenings moving forward.

Support for the Susan G. Komen® Circle of Promise California Initiative is made possible in part by a grant from the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, L.L.C.