MedStar Washington Hospital Center Receives Additional $100K Grant from Avon Foundation for Women to Continue Breast Cancer Outreach in Ward 5

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Receives $100K Grant from Avon Foundation for Women to Continue Breast Cancer Outreach in Ward 5.

May 11, 2015

Survey Data Reveals Fear and Personal Reasons Drive Many Women to Skip Routine Mammograms

Washington, D.C., May 11, 2015 – Cancer specialists at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have determined that fear and personal factors are the primary reasons why women in the District’s Ward 5 are diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, in spite of having health insurance. The finding is based on an assessment of personal opinions from mostly African-American women who live in Ward 5. Over the past year, breast health navigators have been canvassing the community, in order to learn why women from Ward 5 come to the hospital’s Washington Cancer Institute for treatment with advanced breast cancer, data previously reported by the hospital.

The navigators surveyed 1,000 women to find out what they know about breast cancer and breast cancer services, as part of the Get2Breast CARE (Cancer Awareness & Resource Education in Ward 5) program, which is funded by a grant from the Avon Foundation for Women. Of the 1,200 personal opinions that were analyzed from the 31-question survey, 22.8 percent noted fear and 23.6 percent noted personal factors as reasons for delaying or skipping routine mammograms, the first line of defense to look for early signs of breast cancer. In their opinions, many respondents indicated fear of cancer, treatment, receiving bad news and abandonment, as well as personal reasons such as a busy lifestyle, no time to see a doctor, laziness and lack of preventative health education in their answers.

"It’s clear from this survey that our work in the community is not complete,” said Elmer E. Huerta, MD, MPH, director of the Cancer Preventorium at the Washington Cancer Institute. “Armed with the knowledge provided to us by District residents, and with the Avon support, we will expand our outreach activities, in partnership with at least 50 community organizations in Ward 5 to do more intervention and education during the next year.”

This is the second year that Avon has provided a $100,000 grant to fund the GET2Breast CARE program. In addition to educating women on the importance of early detection, four breast health navigators will offer follow-up care to women who are found to have suspicious lumps after obtaining a screening mammogram. The navigators will also work to ensure timely treatment is offered to the women, if necessary.

“Previous data we’ve collected have shown health disparities exist in African-American women as it pertains to a diagnosis of breast cancer,” said Sandra Swain, MD, FACP, medical director, Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “We’re delighted that we can continue to increase access to education and make a positive impact in the community.” 

The Hospital Center received the grant at the culmination of the Avon 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C., recently. It was one of eight local organizations awarded the funds, to accelerate breast cancer research and improve access to screening, diagnosis and treatment.


Avon-39-Grant--2015 ​​​​​​​​

 Dr. Elmer Huerta, director, Cancer Preventorium, accepts a check from Cheryl Heinonen, senior vice president, Avon Foundation for Women.




Media Contacts:

So Young Pak
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Sylvia Ballinger
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