Susan G. Komen’s® Southern California Affiliates Intensify Their Efforts to Improve African American Women’s Breast Health

African-American Women Suffer Significantly Higher Breast Cancer
Mortality Rates than any other Race

Long Beach, Calif. (May 17, 2017) — Today, the four Susan G. Komen Affiliates in Southern California joined community leaders from across the Southland to showcase efforts that are underway to address breast health disparities confronting our African American community.  

Promising greater health equity and a significant increase in positive breast cancer outcomes for African American women, Komen’s team of Circle of Promise® advocates discussed how they are making progress in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino and San Diego -and ultimately, lower rates of late stage diagnosis from breast cancer.

“All of us are focused on addressing the compounding social, cultural, financial and geographic barriers that continue to confront African American women, regardless of their insurance status,” said Dr. Suzanne Afflalo, a physician with Kaiser Permanente and a Komen San Diego advocate. “We have developed the strategic partnerships needed to stand together to change this alarming disparity.” Dr. Afflalo was the keynote speaker at the gathering.

Gains from the war on breast cancer have sidestepped African American women. Prior to 1980, African American and Caucasian women faced nearly identical mortality rates of approximately 33 deaths per 100,000. But today, African American women are 40 % more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women. 

In fact, these women are between 40 to 70 % more likely to have a late-stage diagnosis, are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, and are also more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age.

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.

“Due to a variety reasons, including a lack of proper health care, African Americans experience the largest health risks of all minority groups. According to the U.S. Department of Health, African American women have more disease, disability, and early death.  At St. Mary Medical Center, we strive to create partnerships with entities that are focused on addressing the needs of these women, which is why we are proud to partner with Susan G. Komen to help improve breast cancer health and other medical conditions,” stated Carolyn Caldwell, incoming President/CEO at Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center, and host of the gathering.

Guests learned how Komen is working collaboratively to provide increased access to quality care, greater utilization of primary care and health prevention services, improved health knowledge and literacy. In addition, African American women will be empowered and enabled to engage in self-care/self-efficacy strategies that support sustainable health behavior change and good health.

“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 African American women still face barriers to screening, diagnosis and treatment services,” said Jill Eaton, Susan G. Komen Inland Empire executive director. “Through innovative ideas and collaboration, Komen’s Southern California Affiliates will make a significant impact on the lives of women in San Bernardino, across the state, and ultimately, save lives.” 

Earlier this year, the Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise California Initiative was awarded a second grant of $400,000 from the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, L.L.C. bringing the Foundation’s total investment to address breast care disparities among African-American women to $865,000 over the past five years.

“Without the leadership of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and its core belief that all people should have access to quality health care, none of this life-saving work would be possible,” said Laura Farmer Sherman, President & CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego.  “In fact, thousands of women would not be alive today without this important work.” 

About Susan G. Komen®

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. Komen has set a Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. Komen was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.

About Anthem Blue Cross Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.