Breast cancer screening is essential to wellness for all women, but not all women have equal access to the proper information and care. International Community Health Services (ICHS) was recently awarded a $63,000 community grant from Susan G. Komen Puget Sound to promote breast health education and reduce health disparities throughout King County.
Breast cancer prevention is strongly tied to early detection. Women in medically underserved communities can encounter obstacles to breast health services, including, but not limited to inaccurate information, cultural and language barriers, and a lack of transportation.
“King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have a higher than average number of advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis and deaths, especially among our diverse communities,” said Michael McKee, ICHS director of health services and community partnerships. “This is an avoidable tragedy and ICHS’ community advocates are working to reverse the tide as we improve access to information, screenings and care.”
ICHS health advocacy manager Rana Amini accepted the community grant on behalf of ICHS at the 2017 Komen Puget Sound Impact Celebration on May 11. ICHS’ Women’s Preventive Health Services and community advocacy programs have received funding from Komen’s Puget Sound chapter to support breast health education and outreach for more than a decade. ICHS’ Breast Health Outreach, Prevention, and Education (B-HOPE) project improves breast health education and offers early detection services to low-income, limited-English proficient members of King County’s Pacific Islander, Latina, Somali, and Asian Indian communities and other communities of need.
In 2016, ICHS staff reached more than 3,900 women with information about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer via nearly 50 community events and health fairs, and in collaboration with community-based organizations throughout King County. Since 2008, ICHS has had more than 29,000 outreach contacts with women regarding breast health education.
Among the ways ICHS partners with Komen to address breast health is through annual support of its “Race for the Cure.” On June 4, an ICHS fundraising team will join the race at the Seattle Center.
According to Susan G. Komen’s 2015 community profile report, Pacific Islander women have the area’s lowest five-year breast cancer survival rate, with 18% failing to survive for five years after a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. According to 2015 data from the Washington Department of Health, black women also have a poor overall survival rate, with over 11% failing to survive for five years.