October 23, 2012
By Cori Ast
As the nation marks October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the National Football League (NFL) is funding a Wyandotte County project conducted by the University of Kansas Medical Center to increase breast cancer awareness and screening among low income women. The funding is available through a joint initiative between the NFL and the American Cancer Society through their campaign called "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives."
KU Medical Center received funding from the campaign in June to expand the Promotoras de Salud and Community Health Center Collaborative. Promotoras de Salud, which translates from Spanish as community health workers, distribute breast cancer information and resources throughout Wyandotte County. The project seeks to remind women age 40 and older of the importance of getting a mammogram and clinical breast exam to find breast cancer in its early, more treatable stages.
"Since the inception of the project in June, we have developed Cancer 101 and Breast Cancer 101 curriculum and are engaging promotoras with this material. Their commitment to the health and wellness of their friends, family members and acquaintances is unmatched," said Kim Engelman, PhD, associate professor of preventive medicine and public health at KU Medical Center. "We are beginning to make progress with the Spanish-speaking female population in the Kansas City area. To date, 80 women have been educated about breast cancer and local screening resources."
Ana Paula Cupertino, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health at KU Medical Center and director of the Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health, has worked with local Promotoras de Salud for several years.
"Promotoras have tremendous influence within their social networks and, armed with breast health education and knowledge of screening resources, they are poised to make a big difference in the lives of other women in Wyandotte County," said Cupertino.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic women, who also are the least likely population to seek screening and most likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer. When detected early, breast cancer has a survival rate better than 95 percent, but a less than 25 percent survival rate when the cancer is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body.
"This NFL-funded breast cancer program is exactly what we need in the Kansas City area to be able to reach out to our Latina women who may not seek screening due to barriers related to language and culture," said Bridgett Meyers, vice president for the High Plains Division of the American Cancer Society. "More than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year, thanks in part to the lifesaving efforts of the American Cancer Society and supporters like the NFL."
The Promotoras de Salud and Community Health Center Collaborative is funded through June 2013 and outreach will be managed through community events, a radio novella, and community health workers. For more information about the program, contact JUNTOS at 913-588-2783.
Photo credit: National Cancer Institute
Photographer: Rhoda Baer