Awareness of the devastating impact of breast cancer has grown exponentially over the past two decades. The \”Think Pink\” campaign has brought well deserved public attention to this disease. However, a closer look at the District\’s statistics shows we have a lot of work to do. The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) reports that breast cancer is the number one most commonly diagnosed cancer in the District (130.3 per 100,000) and the second leading cause of cancer deaths (31.1 per 100,000). Both of which lead the nation.
While white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than black women, black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. Race should not be a determinant of whether you die from breast cancer or not, especially in the nation’s capital.
Although the DoH has a Project WISH (Women Into Staying Healthy) program that provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic follow-up for eligible women, it’s not enough. Project WISH also provides patient navigation, transportation assistance, and cancer education to all women enrolled in the project. Eligibility and enrollment consist of women who are uninsured and underinsured and between the ages of 21 and 64. The Universal Peace Federation -Washington, DC, is partnering with Project WISH to promote breast and cervical cancer awareness, screening, and health education to minority women in the District of Columbia and its suburbs.
Another resource for underserved residents in the district is Breast Care for Washington. Breast Care for Washington is a community-centered breast cancer screening organization to enhance access to breast cancer screening and care among medically underserved women in the Washington, DC area. Its service facility is the first and only comprehensive breast cancer screening facility with 3D technology east of the Anacostia River. BCW is located in the Community of Hope, which serves as another valuable health resource for those east of the river.
So, as you Think Pink this month and throughout the year, let\’s also realize that DC needs more work in this area, especially in low-income underserved communities. With all of the top-rated medical services in the D.C. metropolitan area, there is no reason why Washington should be leading the nation in breast cancer mortality rates.