Partnerships to Tackle Breast Cancer Disparities in St. Louis

September 8, 2014

Health-care specialists at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital are working to improve breast cancer care for African-American women living in North St. Louis City, where death rates from breast cancer are disproportionately high.

“Although African-American women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, they are 37 percent more likely to die from it,” says Sarah J. Gehlert, PhD, the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity at Washington University. “And in St. Louis, that disparity is greater.”

With support from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, researchers at Washington University’s Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD) seek to identify reasons behind the breast cancer disparity and to help close gaps in care that leave African-American women in North St. Louis particularly vulnerable.

“Although African-American women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, they are 37 percent more likely to die from it. And in St. Louis, that disparity is greater.”

“We’ll be looking for barriers that some women experience as they navigate their cancer care,” says Graham A. Colditz, MD, PhD, the Niess-Gain Professor and a co-principal investigator on the project with Gehlert. “African-American women in North St. Louis are more likely to get a diagnosis of late-stage breast cancer. And if they get a diagnosis, they are more likely to drop out of treatment. From a community perspective, we are working to map out the complex web of reasons why people might not follow through, or be able to follow through, on treatment.”

Scholars
Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery and Division Chief, Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine; Deputy Director, Institute for Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis

Read the full story in the Washington University Newsroom.

Investigators

Sarah J. Gehlert, PhD, Brown School
Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, School of Medicine

Community Partners

Christian Hospital
Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers
Committed Caring Faith Communities
Women’s Wellness Program

Funder

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

More Information

St. Louis Public Radio story