JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 13 The Central Mississippi SteelMagnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure today hosted a public forumat UMC Conference Center at the Jackson Medical Mall, calling on policymakersto increase the budget for breast cancer screening programs for low-income andunderinsured women. Mississippi has the third highest breast cancer mortalityrate in the nation. In 2007, more than 1,600 Mississippi women will bediagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die.
"Mississippi has been hit hard by breast cancer and low-income women andwomen of color have been hit the hardest. We need to close the gaps inresearch, policy and access to quality care that make breast cancer deadlierfor some women," said Sherry Pitts, president of the Steel Magnolias Affiliateof Komen for the Cure.
The Mississippi Breast and Cervical Cancer Early-detection Program(MS BCCEP) provides mammograms and early detection services for low-income anduninsured and underinsured women, but currently serves only nine percent ofeligible women. Komen advocates increasing the program's budget by $500,000,which would enable 2,000 additional women to receive these life-savingservices.
Entertainer and breast cancer survivor, Paul Ott Carruth moderated a panelof experts who discussed strategies for addressing Mississippi's high breastcancer mortality rates. Panelists included Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R-Tupelo); Rep.John Hines (D-Greenville); Dr. Ralph Vance, oncologist and former nationalpresident of the American Cancer Society; Dr. Phillip Ley, surgical oncologistat Mississippi Breast Center; Dr. Annette Low, director of the University ofMS Medical Center's Center of Excellence in Women's Health; Dr. Ed Thompson,interim director of MS State Health Department; Melody Fortune, executivedirector of State Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program; KarenLivingston-Wilson, attorney and partner at Butler|Snow law firm and KomenSteele Magnolia Affiliate grant chair and breast cancer survivor; and Dr.Cheryl Perkins, senior clinical advisor for Komen for the Cure.
"The most significant risk factors for getting breast cancer are beingfemale and getting older. We need more breast care navigators who can helpwomen make sense of the health care system," said Dr. Perkins, a Mississippinative and breast cancer survivor. "We also need more funding for cancerresearch but, most of all, we need to move beyond talk and into action."
In the United States, a woman has about a 13 percent risk -- or one ineight -- of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Low-income women aremore likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and are three timesmore likely to die from the disease. In Mississippi, African-American womenare dying at a higher rate than white women and at a higher rate thanAfrican-American women nationally.
Today's forum marks the launch of Mississippi's participation in the KomenCommunity Challenge, a 25-city, grassroots campaign to elevate breast canceron the state and national agenda and to draw attention to disparities inbreast cancer incidence and mortality.
About the Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komenfor the Cure
The Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure-along withthose who generously support us with their talent, time and resources-isworking to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in our community. Wejoin more than 100,000 breast cancer survivors and activists around the globeas part of the world's largest and most progressive grassroots networkfighting breast cancer. Through events like the Komen Steel Magnolia Race forthe Cure, we have invested more than $300,000 in local breast health andbreast cancer awareness projects 30 counties this year. Up to 75 percent ofnet proceeds generated by the K