BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of eight nationwide selected to participate in a quality improvement and training initiative supported by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Susan G. Komen. The practices are in metropolitan areas Komen has targeted in its African American Health Equity Initiative, which aims to reduce breast cancer disparities in those areas where the disparities are greatest.

Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women in the U.S., according to a center statement quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast cancer is also the second-leading cause of death among Black women nationally. In Maryland, the mortality rate in Black females increased at a rate of 0.4 percent per year between 2012 and 2016 while it decreased at a rate of 3.5 percent per year among white females during the same time period, a Maryland Department of Health report shows.

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In this three-year program, the center will receive help to identify and solve problems they face in delivering care by participating in the ASCO improvement programs, including the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative and the Quality Training Program.

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Center officials said in a statement they intend to focus on patients who miss appointments. Thirteen percent of Black patients missed appointments, compared to 6 percent for white patients, Paula Y. Rosenblatt, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at UMSOM and a medical oncologist in the cancer center’s Breast Evaluation and Treatment Program, said in the statement.

Their goal is to reduce the rate of Black patients missing appointments to 11 percent or less by December and to 9.5 percent or less by June 2022.

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Members of the breast clinical care team are now in the process of mapping out the problem and identifying other barriers to care. As part of the initiative, they will also collect data on quality measures that will help inform future quality improvement initiatives.

CBS Baltimore Staff