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Health Information Discover Rush Spring 2009

Helping More Black Women Beat Cancer

Breast cancer is highly curable if it's detected early. That's why the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, co-chaired by David Ansell, MD, MPH, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, is looking at ways to ensure that black women in Chicago are screened and treated for the disease as effectively as white women.

According to a report released by the task force, while breast cancer mortality rates for white women in Chicago have declined dramatically since 1980, mortality rates for black women have not decreased at all — even though treatments are far better today than they were 30 years ago. Part of the problem is that black women often have less access to facilities that provide high-quality mammograms and state-of-the-art treatments.

The task force has already begun taking steps to close the racial gap, including studying the quality of breast cancer screening and treatment at Chicago hospitals, and helping to pass a bill in Illinois that eliminates co-payments for mammograms. In addition to making screening mammography a priority, the task force encourages black women to discuss breast health with a primary care physician or gynecologist during annual checkups.

“We know we can detect and treat breast cancer early,” Ansell says. “Now our goal is to ensure that all women in Chicago receive the same level of care.”

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Discover Rush Spring 2009
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