Plan Targets Health Equity for All, Enhanced Research Focus for Most Lethal Breast Cancers
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J.—Sept. 13, 2016—Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey, an affiliate of The Susan G. Komen® breast cancer organization, announced a bold plan today to reduce the nation’s 40,000 breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in 10 years, by improving access to quality and timely cancer care for the underserved, while enhancing Komen’s research focus on lethal breast cancers.
“We know that people die of breast cancer for two reasons: a lack of high-quality breast cancer care accessible to everyone, and a lack of treatments for the most aggressive and deadly forms of this disease,” said Dr. Judith A. Salerno, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “We are taking direct action designed to solve these problems to reduce breast cancer deaths by half in the U.S. within the next decade.”
$27 Million Advanced for Health Equity
Salerno said today that a private foundation is donating $27 million for a program to significantly reduce what she called the “appalling” difference in death rates between African-American and white women in U.S. cities. African-American women are nearly 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women; in some cities, that gap is as high as 74 percent.
“This constitutes a public health crisis that must be addressed, first in the cities where these death rates are highest, and then in all areas of the country,” Salerno said.
Komen’s African-American Health Equity Initiative targets 10 metropolitan areas where mortality rates and late-stage diagnosis of African-American women are highest. The goal: to reduce the mortality gap by 25 percent within five years of beginning work in each city.
The initial areas include Memphis, Tenn., St. Louis, Mo., Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach, Va., and Philadelphia. Baltimore and Detroit have been identified as high priority areas as the program expands over the next year.
The African-American Health Equity Initiative supplements the work that Komen and its network of 100 U.S. Affiliates already are doing to remove barriers to cancer care. Komen and Komen Affiliates support thousands of local programs that provide screenings, treatment assistance, emergency financial aid, medical supplies and living expense for underserved individuals.
The organization has invested more than $2 billion over 34 years for these programs aimed at uninsured, under-insured, and medically vulnerable populations.
Since Komen Central and South Jersey was founded in 2005, it has funded more than 71,713 mammograms in Central and South Jersey and provided 259,495 individuals with breast cancer education. The other 25 percent of raised funds go toward national breast cancer research.
Each year, 7,000 New Jersey residents are diagnosed with breast cancer. The state has the third highest death rate from breast cancer in the United States with the eighth highest number of new cases. In 2015, 1,300 New Jersey residents died from the disease according to Affiliate research; the bold goal aims to save half those lives in the coming decade.
To continue addressing the crisis locally and help women in its 13-county service area, Komen Central and South Jersey is hosting the Race for the Cure on Nov. 6 at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. Registration is open today at komencsnj.org.
“We will never waver from our commitment to remove barriers of language, geography, economics or culture for all people facing this disease. Every woman or man must be able to access and receive high-quality breast health and breast cancer care, be supported through their treatment and into survivorship,” Salerno said.
Ongoing Research: $920 Million And Counting
The second prong of Komen’s plan enhances Komen’s focus on aggressive forms of breast cancer and metastatic disease (stage IV or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).
As the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research (investing more than $920 million since inception), Komen has funded nearly $160 million in metastatic disease research since its founding. Komen has funded another $110 million in research on aggressive forms of breast cancer – such as triple negative, inflammatory breast cancer and hormone-positive forms of breast cancer – that are resistant to standard treatments.
“The majority of breast cancer deaths are from metastatic breast cancer. We also know that aggressive forms of breast cancer are more likely to recur and spread, so we are focusing our efforts in both of these areas,” Salerno said.
The new initiative aims to advance research into new treatments for aggressive and metastatic disease. Komen also will seek to leverage next-generation technology that can detect breast cancer at its very earliest stages to prevent recurrence and metastasis.
Progress to Date
Salerno said Komen’s bold goal builds on the progress of the breast cancer movement since Komen was founded in 1982. “Death rates from breast cancer have declined by 37 percent since 1990. We have more treatments than at any time in our history. We’ve come a very long way from a time when breast cancer couldn’t be discussed publicly. Our new bold goal requires us to take a deeper dive and stretch further to ensure that every woman or man can be told, ‘There is help and hope for you.’”
To learn more about the Bold Goal, Komen Central and South Jersey affiliate and the Race for the Cure on November 6, visit komencsnj.org.
About Susan G. Komen® Central and South Jersey
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Through events like the Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure®, Komen Central and South Jersey has funded 71,713 free mammography screenings, provided one-on-one education and support for more than 259,000 community residents, invested over $17 million in community programs and provided $3.7 million to New Jersey breast cancer researchers. For more information, call 609-896-1201 or visit komencsnj.org.