RENTON, Wash – The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Football League (NFL) have awarded a grant to Community Health Care serving Pierce County to address disparities in breast cancer mortality by providing access to breast cancer screening, follow-up of abnormal mammograms, and timely access to specialty care if needed. The grant funding was made possible through ACS's partnership with the NFL and the league's Crucial Catch campaign.
The grants are the latest in ACS's Community Health Advocates Implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program, which provides funding opportunities as part of the ACS's commitment to reduce disparities in cancer mortality. Community Health Care will receive a $100,000 over two years. The grants are focused primarily on African American communities, but also target other underserved populations.
Breast cancer mortality has steadily declined over the last four decades, largely due to improvements in early detection and treatment. However, not all women have benefited equally from this progress. According to the American Cancer Society, a faster drop among white women has widened the mortality gap between white and black women. Despite similar rates of disease and screening rates, breast cancer death rates in 2015 were 39 percent higher for black women than white women in the nation as a whole and up to 60 percent higher in some states.
Access to timely follow-up and high-quality treatment are key drivers of these disparities, especially in underserved communities. Differences in stage of cancer diagnosis, tumor characteristics, obesity, and other comorbidities are also contributing factors.
"This is truly the best in community partnership, a partnership that allows us to help some of the most vulnerable in our communities," said Larry Andrus, executive director of the American Cancer Society of Washington. "We are committed to working with community leaders to create awareness and impact, and help reduce cancer disparities so everyone has the opportunity to live a healthier life."
David Flentge, President and CEO of Community Health Care, said "The grant will help to make sure patients don't fall through the cracks. Funding received will be used to help educate patients about life-saving screenings and needed follow-up care that patients do not realize they need," said Flentge, who is a cancer survivor. "Cancer doesn't discriminate, but treatment isn't always equal in underserved communities. This will go a long way to making sure cancer screening isn't based on income or zip codes."
The American Cancer Society is committed to saving lives and addressing the unequal burden for cancer. Since 2009, the NFL's Crucial Catch has raised more than $18 million in support of ACS. Funding raised since 2012 has supported ACS's CHANGE program and has been invested in underserved communities to increase cancer education and awareness and promote life-saving screening tests. To date, health system grantees have reached more than 632,000 individuals with education, patient reminders and navigation to screening, and contributed to 138,000 breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings. These new grants will improve timely access to follow up care along with a continued focus on access to high-quality breast cancer screening for underserved women.