Komen Community Profile Shows Growing Need for Breast Care in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine Counties
Komen Community Profile shows growing need for breast care in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine counties
By Sally Sheperdson, executive director of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Milwaukee Affiliate.
A recent study commissioned by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Milwaukee Affiliate has found that more women are putting off needed preventative breast cancer screenings due to economic hardships and changing health insurance plans. The community profile, completed by the Center for Urban Population Health, found that the greatest need for breast care exists in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Racine Counties. These counties have both the highest incidence and the highest mortality rates for breast cancer.
The study covered the Komen affiliate’s eight-county area of southeastern Wisconsin. In addition to numerical data, researchers conducted interviews with key informants to get a fuller picture of the data. Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha were identified as key target areas of focus for the next two years.
Some findings from the key informants include:
• Underinsured women are a high priority in this economic climate, including those with high deductible insurance plans, high co-pays and age restrictions. These factors often prevent screening because women cannot afford the screening or time off from work.
• There is a need for care coordinators or patient navigators to help guide patients through screening, diagnosis and treatment.
• More free mammograms and financial support would help reduce barriers to getting patients screened.
• More focus on preventative care is suggested.
The study is meant to help prompt remedies for some of those concerns, as the tool will be used by the Komen affiliate to direct its funding over the next two years. The stakes are enormous for women in southeastern Wisconsin. In this area alone, there will be more than 1,300 women diagnosed with breast cancer by the end of 2009. More than 260 women will die. These numbers are quite simply unacceptable. The Komen Milwaukee Affiliate’s plan to address these devastating numbers is straightforward. We will continue to support programs which provide access to services and breast health education, so more women are getting mammograms, being diagnosed early, and surviving longer.
Komen Affiliate Priorities for 2009-2011:
• Increase Breast Health Screenings: Getting tested regularly is the best way for women to lower their risk of dying from breast cancer. Screening tests, such as clinical breast exams and screening mammograms, can detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable.
• Early Diagnosis: As we increase the number of women accessing breast cancer screenings in our community, it is important that they also be able to access diagnostic tests following an abnormal breast cancer screening to ensure early diagnosis.
• Continuum of Care through Treatment: A breast cancer diagnosis can be catastrophic – physically, psychologically, emotionally and financially; and treatment plans will vary for each woman, depending on a variety of factors. It is important that a woman receive proper support throughout treatment to address all of her needs so she and her family and friends understand all of the options available.
It is our goal to break down barriers to screening and treatment so that age-appropriate uninsured and underinsured women who aren’t getting regular breast health screenings will have full access to routine breast health services. This is especially critical for individuals with a family history that calls for earlier screenings.
Aurora Health Care underwrote the cost of the community profile, which will greatly benefit the communities served by both organizations and other health care partners.
The Komen affiliate is dedicated to providing needed screenings and services to women in southeastern Wisconsin.
About Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The Komen Milwaukee Affiliate is part of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest and most progressive grassroots network fighting to end breast cancer forever. Komen Milwaukee is reaching into surrounding communities to keep the subject of breast cancer high in the public consciousness. Since 1999, Komen Milwaukee has raised over $4 million toward national research and local education, screening, and treatment for under-served women.
In 1980, Nancy C. Brinker watched helplessly as her sister, Susan G. Komen died after a three-year battle with breast cancer. Before Susan died, Nancy made a promise that would change the world: to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise launched Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, now the global leader of the breast cancer movement. The organization has invested hundreds of millions of dollars each year for research, education, screening, treatment, and encouraging governments everywhere to make cancer a top priority.
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