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Madison County's updated breast cancer statistics
October 7, 2011
Five years after learning that Madison County had the highest incidence rate for breast cancer in the state, new statistics show that while the incidence rate is going down, the late-stage diagnosis rate remains high.
"This information shows that while our community is moving in the right direction, we still have work to be done when it comes to detecting breast cancer," said Mitchell Spahn, MD, Medical Director of The Battelle Breast Care Center. "We still need to communicate to women the importance of mammograms in detecting breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage."
Late in 2006, Madison County Hospital (MCH) became aware of the high breast cancer incidence and mortality rates in the county. This information, from the Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System, was provided by the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, who encouraged the hospital to address this critical issue.
Taking that advice to heart, in 2007 the MCH Foundation launched a $2 million Breast Cancer Initiative aimed at increasing education and awareness, expanding screening, diagnostic and treatment options, and establishing a Breast Cancer Endowment Fund to provide healthcare services to women who are un- or under-insured. So far, more than $1.7 million has been raised for the initiative.
"When we learned of the county's high incidence of breast cancer, we knew we had to do something to help the women of our community," said Mona Flax, Executive Director of the MCH Foundation. "Being a breast cancer survivor myself, I wanted to help make sure that women for generations to come are able to get their breast care at Madison County Hospital."
Over the last few years, Foundation funding has assisted MCH in renovating space for The Battelle Breast Care Center, adding a Breast Care Specialist, and bringing the latest technology for diagnosing and treating breast cancer, including digital mammography, breast MRI, sentinel node, and stereotactic biopsy capabilities.
Now, five years after first being notified of the issue, the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has released a Community Profile Report with updated statistics for Madison County.
Looking at those figures, Ohio ranks below average for breast cancer incidence but fourth in the country for breast cancer mortality. Madison County no longer has the highest incidence rate in the state, and the county's mortality rate has gone down.
However, Madison County's percentage of late-stage diagnosis is still high at 40 percent. Ohio's late state diagnosis rate is 29 percent. Madison County has the highest percentage of late-stage diagnosis in central and southeast Ohio.
In late 2009 researchers at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine completed an epidemiology study to try to find the reason for Madison County's high breast cancer statistics. The study did not find any particular environmental issues that might be involved. It also did not point to a specific behavioral factor such as obesity, alcohol use, or smoking.
"While risk factors do contribute to the development of breast cancer, they don’t appear to be the cause of Madison County’s unusually high late-stage diagnosis rate," said Dr. Spahn. "Because of that, prevention and early detection measures, such as maintaining healthy lifestyles and getting annual mammograms, could have the most impact on reducing breast cancer in Madison County."
Thanks to the donations from the community to the Breast Cancer Initiative, the hospital has the latest tools in diagnosing breast cancer. In addition, with the support of the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, women can get mammograms at no cost to them.
"With these options available to the women of Madison County, we should be able to diagnose breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage," said Dr. Spahn. "Hopefully, that will give us an even more positive report in the future."