Breast Cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among American women and the most common cancer among women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life.
Breast cancer is very common and could be deadly to all women, but research from the American Cancer Society shows that low-income populations receive fewer preventive services and poorer quality of care:
- Low-income and uninsured women are less likely to receive timely screening mammograms than women with health insurance
- Women who are uninsured or on Medicaid are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with later stage breast cancer (Stage III or IV) than the privately insured women
- Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to receive inappropriate treatment for breast cancer than white patients, have poorer satisfaction with the quality of their care, and face a higher mortality rate
Washington, DC has one of the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the country. The surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia also experience higher than average breast cancer mortality among certain populations. Annual screening rates in the National Capital Region range from 62 to 64 percent, yet data from the American Cancer Society show that the aggregate screening rate among uninsured women is only 34.9 percent—far below the national average.
Roughly 120,000, or 15 percent of women aged 40 to 64 in the National Capital Region are low-income. Of these, almost 39 percent are uninsured. These tens of thousands of women face an incredibly complex system when seeking breast health care.
The 2011 State of the Regional Breast Health Care Assessment found a deeply fragmented system with:
- Poor access to breast health services across the continuum of care
- Limited coordination of care between providers
- Inconsistent and limited data collection by service providers
- Bureaucratic challenges for patients navigating across jurisdictions with limited integration between county and state governments.
The PCC is committed to improving the quality of care for low-income women across the continuum of breast health care. We apply our expertise in process improvement, data collection systems, and building relationships to improve the quality of care and reduce systemic barriers to care.