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New Orleans, LA -- For the second year in a row, the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Fund (AFBCF) has awarded LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans a $50,000 grant to enhance breast cancer outreach at the River Region Cancer Screening and Early Detection Center in Sorrento, a freestanding cancer screening clinic serving the rural communities between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The funded activities will provide information about breast cancer screening and breast health issues to underserved women throughout the river parishes, emphasizing minorities and women who are forty years and over.

According to the Louisiana Tumor Registry at LSU Health Sciences Center, although breast cancer mortality rates have been declining among Caucasian women and US African-American women, in Louisiana, breast cancer mortality rates are rising for African-American women. African-American women in Louisiana are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced disease than those in the US (41% vs. 37%) so continued efforts to expand early detection programs followed by timely and appropriate treatment will improve survival.

The mission of the River Region Cancer Screening and Early Detection Center is to detect and help patients find treatment for cancers before they become life threatening. The clinic offers underserved women free cancer screening, including mammograms, clinical breast exams, and personalized instruction on self breast exams. The AFBCF funding supports outreach activities at health fairs, schools, churches, and other civic groups, as well as in the workplace. In addition, it supports an educational program for community lay educators, women from the clinic’s target population who will serve as health advocates their friends, family, and other members of their community. The course provides the lay educators with culturally sensitive information on nutrition, clinical trials, cancer prevention and screening, and other activities recommended for improving breast health, including self breast exams. This training is available to anyone interested in impacting the communities in which they live. Cancer prevention, early detection, and screening programs have been shown to increase breast cancer survival rates dramatically.

Because Louisiana ranks as one of the highest states in obesity, another goal of the outreach program is to educate women about the link between obesity and cancer. All outreach activities will be co-directed by Elizabeth Melancon, MSN, FNP-C, and Leigh Anne Kamerman Burns, MS, LDN-RD, who have also developed the course for lay educators.

The clinic received its first AFPCF funding last year. Within the first six months, the number of women receiving mammograms increased by 69%, the number receiving clinical breast examinations by 60%, the percentage of minority clients increased from 40% to 51%. This year’s goal is to further increase the number of women screened and also to increase the percentage of clients who are of African American descent and/or 65 years of age and older. To boost community involvement, the lay health educator program is being expanded, due to a new partnership with the Sisters Supporting Sisters, the Baton Rouge chapter of the Sisters Network, whereby members will work within their community to develop breast cancer education and increase prevention efforts.






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