The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Houston Texans has awarded a grant to Legacy Community Health 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.
“We are excited about the improved access to services this grant funding will offer to individuals in the community,” said Jeff Fehlis, executive vice president for the American Cancer Society. “Breast cancer mortality rates have declined since 1989, thanks in part to the lifesaving efforts of the American Cancer Society and supporters like the NFL.”
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. Legacy Community Health will receive a $100,000 over two years. The grants are focused primarily on African-American communities, but also target other underserved populations.
“We’re certainly grateful to the NFL, Houston Texans, and the American Cancer Society for their ongoing commitment to breast cancer,” said Dr. Ann Barnes, chief medical officer of Legacy Community Health. “This generous grant will increase our capacity for providing mammograms to low-income, medically underserved women in Houston and to ensure women have timely access to specialty care for any abnormality. As we know, early detection is the key.”
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. 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.
“We are committed to the fight against cancer and through this grant, we are excited to see Legacy Community Health provide necessary healthcare to underserved populations,” remarked Senior Vice President of Marketing and Community Development Jennifer Davenport. “The American Cancer Society along with the Texans are pleased to award these grants and we look forward to the positive impact it will have in our community.”
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.