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Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Elected Officials, Health Leaders and Breast Cancer Survivors Call for Action to Reduce State's High Breast Cancer Mortality Rate

Mississippi Joins Nationwide Campaign to Close the Gaps that Make Breast

Cancer Deadlier for Low-Income Women and Women of Color

JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure today hosted a public forum at UMC Conference Center at the Jackson Medical Mall, calling on policymakers to increase the budget for breast cancer screening programs for low-income and underinsured women. Mississippi has the third highest breast cancer mortality rate in the nation. In 2007, more than 1,600 Mississippi women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die.


"Mississippi has been hit hard by breast cancer and low-income women and women of color have been hit the hardest. We need to close the gaps in research, policy and access to quality care that make breast cancer deadlier for some women," said Sherry Pitts, president of the Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Komen for the Cure.

The Mississippi Breast and Cervical Cancer Early-detection Program (MS BCCEP) provides mammograms and early detection services for low-income and uninsured and underinsured women, but currently serves only nine percent of eligible women. Komen advocates increasing the program's budget by $500,000, which would enable 2,000 additional women to receive these life-saving services.

Entertainer and breast cancer survivor, Paul Ott Carruth moderated a panel of experts who discussed strategies for addressing Mississippi's high breast cancer mortality rates. Panelists included Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R-Tupelo); Rep. John Hines (D-Greenville); Dr. Ralph Vance, oncologist and former national president of the American Cancer Society; Dr. Phillip Ley, surgical oncologist at Mississippi Breast Center; Dr. Annette Low, director of the University of MS Medical Center's Center of Excellence in Women's Health; Dr. Ed Thompson, interim director of MS State Health Department; Melody Fortune, executive director of State Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program; Karen Livingston-Wilson, attorney and partner at Butler|Snow law firm and Komen Steele 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 being female and getting older. We need more breast care navigators who can help women make sense of the health care system," said Dr. Perkins, a Mississippi native and breast cancer survivor. "We also need more funding for cancer research 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 in eight -- of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Low-income women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and are three times more likely to die from the disease. In Mississippi, African-American women are dying at a higher rate than white women and at a higher rate than African-American women nationally.

Today's forum marks the launch of Mississippi's participation in the Komen Community Challenge, a 25-city, grassroots campaign to elevate breast cancer on the state and national agenda and to draw attention to disparities in breast cancer incidence and mortality.

About the Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The Steel Magnolias Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure-along with those who generously support us with their talent, time and resources-is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in our community. We join more than 100,000 breast cancer survivors and activists around the globe as part of the world's largest and most progressive grassroots network fighting breast cancer. Through events like the Komen Steel Magnolia Race for the Cure, we have invested more than $300,000 in local breast health and breast cancer awareness projects 30 counties this year. Up to 75 percent of net proceeds generated by the Komen Steel Magnolia Affiliate stay in the Central Mississippi service area while the remaining income goes to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grant Programs supporting research, awards and educational and scientific programs around the world. Join us by calling Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias at 866-475-6636 or visiting us online at

About Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure, we have invested nearly $1 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. For more information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.

SOURCE Susan G. Komen for the Cure
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