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Susan G. Komen For The Cure, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Local Hospitals Call on Policymakers to Address Injustice and Unfairness in Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality

Komen Detroit Race for the Cure Joins Nationwide Campaign to Close the Gaps that Make Breast Cancer Deadlier for Low-Income Women and Women of Color

DETROIT, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, physicians and executives from five of metro Detroit's top hospitals and other community leaders gathered with hundreds of breast cancer survivors and advocates this evening at a "Close the Gap" Community Forum at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit. Dr. John C. Ruckdeschel, President & CEO, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute; Michael E. Duggan, President & CEO, Detroit Medical Center; Dr. Joseph Anderson, Josephine Ford Cancer Center Specialist, Henry Ford Health System; Elliot Joseph, President & CEO, St. John Health; and Dr. Sophia Roumanis, Medical Director for Breast Care Services, The Center for Women's Health at Oakwood Healthcare System came together to discuss strategies for addressing high mortality rates in Wayne County and called on leaders at every level of government to address disparities in breast cancer survival rates and tremendous barriers that prevent low-income women from receiving care.


"Michigan has been hard hit by breast cancer and low-income women and women of color have been hit the hardest," said Maureen Keenan Meldrum, chair, Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, and director, Breast Cancer Special Programs, for Karmanos Cancer Institute, the Local Presenting Sponsor for the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure. "We need to close the gaps in research, policy and access to quality care that make breast cancer deadlier for some women."

In the United States, a woman has about a 13 percent risk -- or a one in eight chance -- 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. African- American women in Michigan are dying of breast cancer at a higher rate (34 per 100,000) than White women (23 per 100,000). A study commissioned by Komen for the Cure highlighted Wayne County among eight communities in the U. S. with an alarmingly high breast cancer mortality rate (29.7 vs. 26.0 for U.S.).

"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. We need more funding for cancer research. Most of all, we need to move beyond talk and into action," said Kimberly Simpson, chief operating officer for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The forum was moderated by Rene Syler, author and former CBS Early Show anchor whose family history of breast cancer and diagnosis of a pre-cancerous condition motivated her undergo a prophylactic mastectomy earlier this year. Syler moderated a panel of leading physicians and executives from the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, The Detroit Medical Center, Oakwood Hospital, St. John Heath System and Henry Ford Hospital who talked about what their institutions are doing -- and what more must be done -- to address Wayne County's high breast cancer mortality rate and the disparities that cause some women to die of breast cancer more than others.

Crystal Greene from Ford Motor Company and 29-year-old breast cancer survivor Nikia Hammonds Blakely spoke about a new Komen initiative called Circle of Promise. Circle of Promise is designed to engage African American women in the fight to end breast cancer by fostering increased awareness, support, empowerment and action. The heart and soul of the campaign is its online community, Breast cancer survivor and Detroit Chief of Police Ella Bully-Cummings urged all women of metro Detroit to get screened.

Other community leaders -- including Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Dr. Hilary Ratner, vice president for research at Wayne State University and others -- spoke about their organizations' efforts to close the gaps in breast cancer mortality. Breast cancer survivors and advocates called on policymakers to support increased funding for early detection programs, cancer research, and patient navigator services that help women get past barriers to care.

A silent auction to benefit national and local breast cancer research preceded the forum. Auction items included a Kelly Clarkston signed guitar; a 2008 Detroit Race for the Cure package; an autographed basketball by Chauncey Billups; an autographed jersey by Tayshaun Prince; Detroit Tigers' pink package; a Bailey, Banks & Biddle bracelet; a Komen Pink Basket; and Detroit Symphony Orchestra ticket package. A limited edition 2008 Warriors in Pink Ford Mustang was on display, and the Warriors in Pink drummers performed.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is marking its 25th anniversary year by ratcheting up the fight against breast cancer and taking its special brand of pink ribbon activism on the road. The Komen Community Challenge is a 25-city tour with a powerful grassroots campaign to reach tens of thousands of people through community rallies and forums, awareness events, town hall meetings and state lobby days. Its purpose is to rally people together to close the gaps in research, policy and heath care so that every woman has access to breast cancer screening, early detection and quality care.

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 1-800 I'M AWARE.

About the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Based in Detroit, Michigan, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute is committed to a future free of cancer. The Karmanos Cancer Institute, the Local Presenting Sponsor of the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, is one of 39 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Caring for more than 6,000 new patients annually and conducting more than 700 cancer-specific scientific investigations programs and clinical trials, the Karmanos Cancer Institute is among the nation's best cancer centers. Through the commitment of 1,000 staff, including nearly 300 faculty members, and supported by thousands of volunteers and financial donors, the Institute strives to prevent, detect and eradicate all forms of cancer. More than $2 million was raised in the 2007 Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, awarding grants of nearly $1.3 million to local breast health and breast cancer awareness programs in southeast Michigan. Additionally, nearly $350,000 was contributed to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grant Programs supporting research, awards and educational and scientific programs around the world. For more information call 1-800-KARMANOS or visit

SOURCE Susan G. Komen for the Cure
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