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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2012
Contact: Karen E. Warmkessel  kwarmkessel@umm.edu  410-328-8919

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND'S BALTIMORE CITY CANCER PROGRAM RECEIVES $240,000 GRANT FROM AVON FOUNDATION

One of 10 grants awarded at Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C.; Funds will be used to increase breast cancer screenings and support patient navigation program

Dr. Shana Ntiri accepts check from The Avon Foundation

Dr. Shana Ntiri, medical director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, accepts check from the Avon Foundation at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C., on May 6, 2012.

The Avon Foundation for Women has awarded the University of Maryland’s Baltimore City Cancer Program a $240,000 grant to expand breast cancer screening for low-income, uninsured women in Baltimore City and enhance its patient navigation program, which helps women with abnormal results receive follow-up care and treatment if they are diagnosed with cancer.

The Baltimore City Cancer Program is a community-based initiative of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. It was created in 2001 to help eliminate cancer deaths in Baltimore City through early detection, diagnosis, treatment and education. Since then, the program has screened more than 27,000 city residents, providing more than 8,949 free clinical breast exams and 9,874 mammograms. Of those screened, 101 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer; 80 percent had early-stage disease. The program also offers free cervical cancer screening.

“With continued funding from the Avon Foundation, we will be able to reach more women in Baltimore City and provide them with greater access to quality diagnostics and the latest breast cancer treatment, including participation in clinical trials. Most importantly, we will be able to save more lives,” says Shana O. Ntiri, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and medical director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program at the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Dr. Ntiri says that through the patient navigation program, the staff has been able to reduce the length of time between screening and treatment from 50 days in 2007 to a current all-time low of 32 days. “Patient navigation is the critical link that assures patient access to the resources and support necessary to obtain timely follow-up, diagnosis and treatment. Our patient navigator helps patients overcome various obstacles, whether they are financial, cultural or emotional, or related to lack of transportation or child care, which may prevent them from getting the care that they need,” Dr. Ntiri says.

Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, says, “Detecting breast cancer at an early stage when it is more easily treated is very important, particularly in the African-American community, where women are not only at increased risk of developing breast cancer at a younger age but also of dying of the disease. The Baltimore City Cancer Program has been quite successful in this regard. Eighty percent of the women diagnosed with breast cancer have had early-stage disease, which compares favorably with the statewide average of 56 percent.”

The Baltimore City Cancer Program provides cancer screening at two University of Maryland-owned primary care centers (UniversityCare) and other community health centers throughout Baltimore. Women who are diagnosed with cancer are treated at the Greenebaum Cancer Center. The program receives funding from the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Program as well as grants from organizations such as the Avon Foundation and the Maryland affiliate of Susan B. Komen for the Cure.

The Baltimore City Cancer Program was one of 10 organizations in the Baltimore-Washington area to receive grants totaling $4.25 million during closing ceremonies of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C., on May 6. The foundation provides funding for programs that improve the lives of women, focusing on breast cancer and domestic violence.

About the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, which is part of the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The center is recognized for its active clinical and basic science research program. It has comprehensive programs to treat all types of cancer and is a major referral center for patients throughout Maryland and the region. It is recognized as one of the top 25 cancer centers by U.S. News and World Report. For more information, go to www.umgcc.org.

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This page was last updated on: May 8, 2012.