As we observe Black History Month, we reflect on the health disparities affecting our communities. Socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, environment, and availability of quality health care impact when an individual is diagnosed with cancer. The Jackson Health System recognized that each year, approximately 2,000 African American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, with more than 40% dying from the disease. They have twice the cervical cancer mortality rate in comparison to white women also diagnosed with cervical cancer. Research from the American Cancer Society shows that 1 out of 8 women are at risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, with breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer related deaths among women. As reported by the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners organization, African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage and have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate. This is the highest of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. The mortality rate of African American women diagnosed with breast cancer is 42% higher than the mortality rate for white women.
The American Cancer Society attributes this high death rate from breast cancer to roughly 1 in 5 African American women being diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. African American women aged 40 and younger are more likely to be affected by this type of breast cancer. According to the CDC, Triple Negative Breast Cancer does not contain any receptors found in breast cancer, making it more difficult to treat. This type of breast cancer has shown quicker progression in comparison to other cancers. Our hope is to increase preventative cancer screenings for all underserved populations.
Health disparities among Black and African American women are linked to lack of access to culturally competent care, lower rates of health insurance, and reduced funding for and awareness of safety net programs. Adagio Health is actively working on reducing health disparities through care navigation efforts. Adagio Health’s team of Care Navigators provide referrals, offer follow-up, and perform outreach to communities that have historically experienced health disparities. Tatyana Abreu is based at Adagio Health’s Erie Medical Office, “As the Cancer Screening Patient Navigator, I work with minorities and immigrant populations in the Erie community to ensure that they are receiving breast and cervical cancer screenings at the recommended screening age. I enjoy helping our patients schedule their screenings and diagnostic testing.” Cancer Screening Care Navigators connect patients with services through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP) and Mammogram Voucher Program (MVP), two programs that provide cancer screening and diagnostic services to uninsured and underinsured individuals. “Being a navigator is a unique experience due to the diverse populations we serve throughout our 62-county service area”, stated Andrea Palashoff. “It’s rewarding to help people with, not only their screening needs, but other barriers to quality care through our navigation network.”
Patients diagnosed with cervical cancer, breast cancer, or a breast or cervical pre-cancerous condition may be eligible participants in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program (BCCPT). BCCPT is administered by Adagio Health in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
To speak with a care navigator, please call Adagio Health at 1-800-215-7494