January 12, 2010

UAMS Breast Cancer Awareness Program Receives Grant from Avon Foundation

LITTLE ROCK – The Witness Project, a program of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to increase awareness of breast cancer, has been awarded a $20,000 one-year grant from the Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund. It’s the ninth year the program has received Avon Foundation funding.

The Witness Project, sponsored by the UAMS College of Public Health and founded by the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, educates African-American and medically underserved women and refers them to low-cost or free mammograms and clinical breast exams in their communities. Mobile mammography units provide screenings for women living in counties with limited access to certified mammography facilities. The program also assists women with transportation and other unmet needs. Educational programs are presented at churches, civic centers, job sites and during community activities.

In the past five years, The Witness Project has educated and assisted more than 12,000 women in 23 Arkansas counties. Since January 2009 alone, the program has reached more than 1,100 women with information about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and has referred almost 275 women for clinical breast exams and mammograms. Of the 275 women referred, 210 women received clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States and the leading single cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55. In 2009, approximately 40,170 women are expected to die from breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.

Nationwide, there is a new diagnosis every three minutes and a death from breast cancer every 14 minutes. While advances have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment. Programs such as The Witness Project help ensure that all women have access to early detection information and options, even economically disadvantaged and medically underserved women.

“We are truly honored that the Avon Foundation still continues to support the mission of the Witness Project, said Cynthia Maxwell, director of the UAMS Witness Project. “We will continue to provide education and outreach to African-American women and the medically underserved populations in Arkansas about the importance of early detection.”

The Avon Foundation and Breast Cancer Crusade
The Avon Foundation, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. Now past the half-century milestone, the foundation brings this mission to life through the Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which raises funds and awareness to advance access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, with a focus on the medically underserved. Since 1992 the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has raised and awarded more than $450 million worldwide for medical research; access to care; support services; screening and diagnostics; and education and awareness. The largest fundraising program in the United States is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series.

The Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund
The Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund is administered by Cicatelli Associates Inc. to support community-based, nonprofit breast health programs across the country. The fund’s National Advisory Board selected The Witness Project at UAMS as one of the new grant recipients nationwide in the 2010 cycle of Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund grants. These organizations were chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women who are often medically underserved.

For information on The Witness Project, call Cynthia Maxwell at (800) 275-1183 or (501) 661-9603. For information about breast cancer, contact the American Cancer Society at (800) ACS-2345 or www.cancer.org, or the National Cancer Institute at (800) 4-CANCER or www.cancer.gov.

To learn more about the Avon Foundation, call (866) 505-AVON or visit www.avonfoundation.org, where you can also access the free printable Breast Health.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,775 students and 748 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com.