The Arkansas and Ozark Affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, First Lady Ginger Beebe and Representative Joyce Elliot gathered with legislators, breast cancer survivors and activists at the Governor's Mansion to launch the Arkansas Komen Community Challenge. They urged the General Assembly to increase funding for BreastCare, a state program that provides free mammograms to under- and uninsured Arkansas women, and to support policies that make it easier for all women to have mammograms.
Close the Gap - Breast Cancer in Arkansas
National Breast Cancer Disparities
· While White women have the highest breast cancer incidence rate (140.8. cases per 100,000 women) in this country, Black women have the highest mortality rate nationally (35.9 deaths per 100,000 women).
· Although breast cancer mortality rates declined 2.6% annually between 1992 and 2000, the decline was twice as great for White women as for Black women.
· Currently, there is neither a cure for this disease nor any known way to prevent it, making early detection key to survival. Luckily, early detection can be an extremely effective tool: if breast cancer is found and diagnosed while still confined to the breast, the 5-year relative survival rate is more than 98 percent.
· What's more, timely screening mammograms could prevent 15 to 30 percent of all deaths from breast cancer in women over age 40.
· The grim news, however, is that low-income women have lower screening rates, are 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, and are three times more likely to die from breast cancer, according to studies from the Institute of Medicine.
· Similarly, uninsured women are more likely to receive a late-stage breast cancer diagnosis and are 30 to 50 percent more likely to die from the disease than women with insurance.
Breast Cancer in Arkansas
· This year, the American Cancer Society estimates more than 1,800 women in Arkansas will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, more than 400 of these women will die from the disease.
· Caucasian women are diagnosed more often with breast cancer, but African American women have a 66 percent higher death rate from the disease in Arkansas, according to BreastCare.
· BreastCare provides breast and cervical cancer early detection screenings to uninsured and under-insured Arkansas women. 78,877 women are eligible for BreastCare, yet only 21,437 women are enrolled in the program.
· Due to funding constraints BreastCare can only provide breast cancer early detection services to less than 3 in 10 eligible Arkansas women.
· In FY 06, an average of 850 women per county in Arkansas were eligible, but unserved by BreastCare.
· One out of three or 25 counties in Arkansas lack fixed mammography facilities, creating a potential barrier for many women to access mammography easily. These counties are Calhoun, Cleveland, Dallas, Franklin, Grant, Lafayette, Lee, Lincoln, Logan, Lonoke, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Perry, Pike, Poinsett, Praire, Scott, Searcy, Woodruff, and Yell.
· Further, 12 of these 25 counties are not visited by a mobile mammography unit. These counties are Calhoun, Cleveland, Dallas, Lafayette, Lincoln, Logan, Lonoke, Nevada, Newton, Perry, Prairie, and Yell. There is no certainty, that the counties visited by the mobile mammography unit are adequately covered.
Komen Public Policy Recommendations
· Increase state funding for BreastCare. Last year, the Ozark and Arkansas Affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure were members of the STEP UP Coalition, a cross-section of public health service providers and organizations, advocating for funding of health programs that will reduce risk, prevent, disease, and address specific acute and chronic diseases. BreastCare is included among these programs. Susan G. Komen for the Cure will continue to support this joint effort in future legislative sessions.
· Issue an Interim Study Report to assess and address barriers that women in Arkansas face in accessing breast cancer early detection services throughout the state. This report should shed light on how and if women in the 25 counties without mammography are accessing annual mammograms and include recommendations to improve access and limit barriers so that all women in Arkansas can survive breast cancer.
· Continue to educate and encourage Arkansas women to get an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 through collaboration of public, private, and government entities.