March 10, 2006
Volume 17, No. 5
American Cancer Society statistics show that African Americans bear a disproportionate burden of cancer — with the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers.
Recognizing this disparity, UPMC Cancer Centers and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) have implemented a variety of programs aimed at creating better prevention and detection strategies targeted specifically to the African American and other underserved communities.
Two working committees have been established to coordinate outreach initiatives such as cancer education opportunities; improved access to screenings, treatment, and care; and financial counseling and assistance, as needed. These initiatives are an extension of UPCI’s African American Cancer Program in conjunction with the Center for Minority Health of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
A key initiative is a one-year pilot program to provide financial assistance to patients with prostate, lung, breast, or colon cancer, at four UPMC facilities: Hillman Cancer Center, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, UPMC McKeesport, and UPMC Braddock.
“We want to ensure that patients with a diagnosis of cancer will have access, regardless of financial means, to the latest innovations in treatment and care for their cancer,” says Lyn Robertson, DrPH, associate director for patient care services and cancer education at UPMC Cancer Centers, and administrator of the program.
UPMC Cancer Centers has established a $750,000 limited fund to help underinsured or uninsured patients receive the best possible care, including participation in clinical trials.
“We will work with each patient to explore all funding possibilities,” explains Dr. Robertson. “This pool of funding is a safety net for those who have no other options to cover their care.”