The Susan G. Komen® breast cancer organization announced a bold plan, and funding, to help reduce the nation’s 40,000 breast cancer deaths by 50% in 10 years. Part of that plan funnels $27 Million to address the rate at which African-American women die from the disease. “We know that people die of breast cancer for two reasons: a lack of high-quality breast cancer care accessible to everyone, and a lack of treatments for the most aggressive and deadly forms of this disease,” said Dr. Judith A. Salerno, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “We are taking direct action designed to solve these problems to reduce breast cancer deaths by half in the U.S. within the next decade.”

Millions for Health Equity

Salerno said a private foundation is donating $27 million for a program to significantly reduce what she called the “appalling” difference in death rates between African-American and White women in U.S. cities. African-American women are nearly 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than White women; in some cities, that gap is as high as 74%.

Komen’s African-American Health Equity Initiative targets 10 metropolitan areas where mortality rates and late-stage diagnosis of African-American women are highest. The goal: to reduce the mortality gap by 25% within five years of beginning work in each city.

The initial areas include Memphis, TN, St. Louis, MO, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach, Va., and Philadelphia. Baltimore and Detroit have been identified as high priority areas as the program expands over the next year.

The African-American Health Equity Initiative supplements the work that Komen and its network of 100 U.S. Affiliates already are doing to remove barriers to cancer care.


The second prong of Komen’s plan enhances Komen’s focus on aggressive forms of breast cancer and metastatic disease (stage IV or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).

As the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research, Komen has funded nearly $160 million in metastatic disease research since its founding. “The majority of breast cancer deaths are from metastatic breast cancer,” Salerno said.

Progress to Date

Salerno said Komen’s bold goal builds on the progress of the breast cancer movement since Komen was founded in 1982. “Death rates from breast cancer have declined by 37% since 1990. We have more treatments than at any time in our history. We’ve come a very long way from a time when breast cancer couldn’t be discussed publicly. Our new bold goal requires us to take a deeper dive and stretch further to ensure that every woman or man can be told, ‘There is help and hope for you.’”

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