Monday, October 24, 2016
Breast Cancer: The Stories Behind the Statistics
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit outside of the federal government while also providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since 1982, Komen has funded more than $920 million in research and provided more than $2 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Our mission is to save laves by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.
Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community. Through fundraising events like the Komen Cleveland Race for the Cure® and the Komen Akron Race for the Cure®, Komen Northeast Ohio has invested more than $15 million in community breast health programs in 22 Northeast Ohio counties since its founding in 1994. In 2015, Komen Northeast Ohio released our most recent Community Profile report, a comprehensive needs assessment that examines the impact of breast cancer in Northeast Ohio. The report found that while the state of Ohio is 32nd in the number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year, Ohio is fourth in overall annual deaths from the disease. Even more alarming, Northeast Ohio carries a disproportionate burden of breast cancer deaths compared to the rest of the state.
Breast cancer does not discriminate. It does not care who you are, where you went to school, how often you exercise, where you live, how much money you make, or how old you are. The disease can strike anyone at any time. Forums like “Surviving Breast Cancer: When Doctor Becomes Patient” help shed light on this fact and brings to the forefront stories that are not often heard. Stories like Dr. Melanie Lynch’s offer a unique perspective on how breast cancer can strike at any moment. These are the stories that can help us understand why the statistics in Northeast Ohio are the way they are.
The reasons behind the statistics, much like breast cancer itself, are dynamic and multifaceted. There is no one magic answer as to what is causing women in Northeast Ohio to pass away from breast cancer more frequently than anywhere else in the country. Komen Northeast Ohio is working with providers, health systems, stakeholders, and community members across our service area to better understand the issues that contribute to the statistics and ways we can effectively address these issues.
The data collected and reported in Komen Northeast Ohio’s 2015 Community Profile indicates the populations least likely to get screening mammograms are under/uninsured, living in poverty, possess low literacy rates, and/or belong to minority populations. The data shows a strong need for education programs that motivate individuals to action, dispel myths related to mammography guidelines and breast cancer, address fear, and increase awareness of existing resources. There is also a need for more mobile mammography programs, more strategic collaboration among health systems, and more provider education programs. Provider education will allow doctors, nurses, and health facilities to be more aware of recommended screening guidelines and financial assistance programs available to support screening, early diagnosis, and treatment, including Ohio’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project. Forums like “Surviving Breast Cancer” will help spread this message, bring more awareness to the cause, and assist Komen Northeast Ohio in decreasing the breast cancer mortality rate in Northeast Ohio.