September 10, 2007
Avon Foundation $1M grant furthers breast health care for underserved
By Juliette Merchant
The Emory Winship Cancer Institute has received a $1 million grant from the Avon Foundation, that will be directed to the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center at Grady Memorial Hospital.
The grant will be used to help spread the word about the life-saving benefits of early detection. The grant will also enable health care professionals to expand breast health care for medically underserved women in metropolitan Atlanta.
Over the past 10 years, the Avon Foundation has funded more than 800 programs dedicated to educating communities across the U.S. about breast cancer and linking them with early detection screening services.
“We are grateful to the Avon Foundation for their continuing and substantive partnership in this mission,” said Otis Brawley, director of the Georgia Cancer Center of Excellence at Grady. “Research developments that have been funded by Avon have enabled the AFCBC to build on its work to address health care disparities among minority women and the underserved population in Georgia.”
In 2000 Avon selected the Emory Winship Cancer Institute as steward of its Atlanta investment in breast cancer. Since then, the collaboration between Emory and Avon has evolved into one of the nation’s model programs for providing breast health care services to underserved communities, primarily through the AFCBC at Grady.
The AFCBC is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of medical and surgical oncologists, epidemiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, psychiatrists, scientists and statisticians. In addition, Avon Foundation funding has helped address various access-to-care issues through creation of a Mammography Task Force, which established appointment timelines for services at the center. Screening mammograms are now scheduled within 30 days, and diagnostic mammography appointments and biopsy procedures are scheduled within two weeks.
The team at the AFCBC also has been able to expand the Avon Tumor Bank, which provides breast cancer tissue specimen resources that will be used for new molecular-based clinical studies in breast cancer using innovative technologies such as DNA-microarrays. The AFCBC will also continue to develop its Community Education and Outreach components in order to strengthen prevention, detection and treatment among cancer patients in Atlanta.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. This year alone, an estimated 178,480 women will be diagnosed with and 40,460 women will die of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. In African American women it is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of death exceeded only by lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, African American women are two to three times more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic population.
The breast cancer population at the AFCBC is approximately 85 percent African American, and only 16 percent of the patients are diagnosed with in situ or noninvasive breast cancers, compared to a national average of about 22 percent. Thus, with the AFCBC housed in one of the largest public hospitals in the U.S., transformative breast health services have been brought directly to Atlanta’s most medically at risk and underserved women.