October 29, 2021
An August 2021 Prevent Cancer Foundation® survey found that 42% of women do not know when they should be screened for breast cancer. The numbers are even greater for younger women and women of color, who are disproportionately impacted by breast cancer. On Wednesday, October 20, 2021, more than 100 congressional spouses and members of the Hill community gathered for a Congressional Families Program webinar on “Understanding Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines and Overcoming Disparities” to learn more about what is being done to address these issues.
Lacey Schwartz Delgado, Emmy-nominated producer, writer, and director, who is also spouse of Rep. Antonio Delgado of New York, moderated the panel of distinguished speakers.
Richard Wender, M.D., Chair, Family Medicine and Community Health, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, gave an overview of the various guideline-issuing organizations and why and how they differ in their breast cancer screening recommendations. He encouraged women at average risk to begin screening at age 40 or by 45 at the latest (The Prevent Cancer Foundation supports the recommendation that women at average risk begin annual screening at age 40). He also explained the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on screening rates.
Linda Goler Blount, MPH, President & CEO, Black Women’s Health Imperative, went more in-depth on the disparities between white and Black women in the U.S and what we know and do not know about why these disparities exist. She stressed that lack of representation in research and clinical trials is one area of concern that exacerbates the issue.
Paris Thomas, MS, MCHES, Director of Program Operations, Equal Hope, spoke about the Chicago-based organization’s work using a successful evidence-based model for understanding and reducing disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. (Equal Hope received a $25,000 grant from the Prevent Cancer Foundation this year to support its breast and cervical cancer screening program). Vera Davis, spouse of Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois, introduced Ms. Thomas, as the organization serves their district. Ms. Thomas demonstrated the exceptional progress Chicago has made in reducing breast cancer disparities and how the organization adjusted to the pandemic.
The program concluded with a lively Q&A (Donalynne Schaffer, community outreach worker for Equal Hope, filled in for her colleague) and a call to action from Congressional Families Program Executive Director Lisa McGovern for registrants to get their routine cancer screening appointments back on the books and share the message with their communities.