Chicago Task Force Releases Recommendations To Address Breast Cancer Minority Disparity Between Black, White Women
The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force on Wednesday released a list of 37 recommendations aiming to address a mortality rate gap between black and white women with breast cancer, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Members of the task force studied the issue for a full year (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/18).
The task force was formed after a report by the Sinai Urban Health Institute found that the breast cancer mortality rate for black women in Chicago is 68% higher than that of white women. It comprises 100 health care providers, researchers and advocates from 74 health care organizations. Group members met in March to examine potential causes behind mortality disparity and begin to develop solutions. According to the Tribune, the recommendations are intended to address an overall shortage of quality mammography services, particularly in minority communities (Peres, Chicago Tribune, 10/18).
The task force's recommendations include:
- No-cost mammograms for all uninsured women;
- No copayments or deductibles for breast cancer screening and treatment for those who are insured;
- An increase in Medicaid reimbursements to encourage mammogram centers to serve more indigent women;
- A Web site and hotline that provide mammogram information;
- Hiring three breast cancer survivors to inform others of the disease;
- Funding for cultural sensitivity training for mammogram centers (Chicago Sun-Times, 10/18);
- A universal, transparent quality-control system for mammograms to increase early detection;
- Linking mammography facilities in minority neighborhoods to a central diagnostic hub where experts could interpret mammograms; and
- The public release of quality data.
Donna Thompson, CEO of the Access Community Health Network, said the task force has not yet determined how to fund the efforts or who will direct them, but she acknowledged that some proposals will require legislation. She said, "Many of the answers lie in fixing a system of care in metropolitan Chicago that has failed to preserve the health of African-American women."
David Ansell, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center and a lead member of the task force, said, "When institutions are required to collect quality data -- such as in kidney dialysis or cholesterol screening -- racial disparities are reduced or eliminated. We think the same will be true for breast cancer." He added, "Institutions frequented by black women are less likely to have digital mammography, which suggests lack of investment in technology. And they're less likely to have breast imaging specialists on staff."
The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade and Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation have said they will support the task force's recommendations (Chicago Tribune, 10/18).
The task force report is available online (.pdf).