Local Death Rate from Breast Cancer Exceeds National Average

Komen Northeast Ohio’s 2015 Community Profile report identifies target communities for breast cancer and breast health services

In a newly released report, communities and populations most in need of breast health and breast cancer services are identified, with recommendations offered on how to help reduce the high death rates and disparities in breast cancer outcomes in Northeast Ohio.

“The research that goes into this report helps us identify the geographic areas and populations most in need of breast health services, areas where Komen funding can do the most good and have the most impact,” says Sean Shacklett, Executive Director, of Komen Northeast Ohio. “An important first step in fighting this disease is to understand the state of breast cancer in our own backyard, find where the burden of breast cancer is the most severe and why.”

The Community Profile report, issued every four years, determines Komen Northeast Ohio’s strategic mission work and grant-making efforts. The Community Profile strives to make sure local programs supported by Komen Northeast Ohio target the people and areas most in need.

The 2015 Komen Northeast Ohio Community Profile considers several factors in identifying high-risk communities, including:

  • Time needed to achieve Healthy People 2020 goals related to breast cancer late-stage diagnosis and death
  • High percentage of females over the age of 40
  • High percentage of non-white females
  • High percentage of uninsured females ages 18-64
  • High percentage of females age 40 and older with no mammogram in the past year
  • High female breast cancer incidence rate

Of the 22 counties served by Komen Northeast Ohio, five are at the top of the list for concern due to their high rates in the above categories: Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Mahoning, and the combination of Harrison/Jefferson counties.

Most alarming, the Community Profile reports the state of Ohio ranks 4th in the nation in breast cancer mortality, with a rate of 24.8 per 100,000 individuals; Northeast Ohio’s mortality rate matches the state rate of 24.8, but both the state and local rates are higher than the national average of 22.6.

The Community Profile includes an in-depth analysis of the communities in our region most in need of breast health services. Individuals residing in these areas have a greater need for breast health services, including easier access to mammography and other screening methods, easier access to health services for diagnosis and treatment, and easier access to education and support programs.

The Community Profile also includes a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion on breast health and breast cancer services. Based on the information collected, Komen Northeast Ohio has identified an emerging “gap” population of underinsured individuals. Underinsured individuals are those who have enrolled in low-premium, high-deductible insurance plans that have access to free/low-cost mammography, but then must pay high costs related to diagnostic procedures should something abnormal show up on a screening mammogram. This is especially problematic given the limited amount of safety-net and/or charity programs available to those with inadequate insurance coverage. Komen Northeast Ohio will now direct a large portion of grant funding to cover the high costs of these diagnostic procedures so low-income individuals with an abnormal mammogram can seamlessly progress through the continuum of care in a timely manner.

The data collected and reported in the Community Profile indicates the populations least likely to get screening mammograms are under/uninsured, living in poverty, possess low literacy rates, and/or belong to minority populations. The data shows a strong need for education programs that motivate individuals to action, dispel myths related to mammography guidelines and breast cancer, address fear, and increase awareness of existing resources. There is also a need for more mobile mammography programs, more strategic collaboration among health systems, and more provider education programs. Provider education will allow doctors, nurses, and health facilities to be more aware of recommended screening guidelines and financial assistance programs available to support screening, early diagnosis, and treatment, including Ohio’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project.

Through Komen Northeast Ohio’s fundraising efforts – including the well-known annual Race for the Cure series – Komen is able to support local, community-based organizations and efforts devoted to education, outreach, and early diagnosis to improve treatment, reduce mortality, and help reduce disparities in breast health outcomes. Up to 75 percent of the funds raised locally are used to fund these programs while the remaining 25 percent fund the Susan G. Komen Research and Training Grants Program.

For more information on the Komen Northeast Ohio and to access the full Community Profile report, please visit https://komenneohio.org/grants/community-profile/.