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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2008
Contact: Karen E. Warmkessel  kwarmkessel@umm.edu
Ellen Beth Levitt  eblevitt@umm.edu 410-328-8919

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND'S BALTIMORE CITY CANCER PROGRAM RECEIVES $420,000 FROM AVON FOUNDATION

Grant will be used to expand its breast cancer screening and patient navigator programs

Dr. Stacy Garrett-Ray, director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program, holds up the $420,000 presentation check on the stage with Reese Witherspoon, following the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, in Washington, D.C.

The Avon Foundation has awarded the Baltimore City Cancer Program a $420,000 grant to expand its program to provide breast cancer screening for low-income, uninsured women in Baltimore and to help those who are diagnosed with cancer navigate an often-complex health care system.

The Baltimore City Cancer Program is a community-based initiative of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, funded through Maryland’s Cigarette Restitution Fund Program. 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 16,000 Baltimore City residents, providing more than 5,400 free clinical breast exams and about 5,600 mammograms. Of those screened, 65 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Seventy percent had early-stage cancers. The program also offers free cervical cancer screening.

“With the help of this Avon grant, we will be able to expand our patient navigation program, increase the number of women screened and significantly reduce the length of time between breast cancer screening and cancer treatment,” says Stacy Garrett-Ray, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program and a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The need for our services is growing, and we are very grateful that the Avon Foundation supports our efforts.”

The Baltimore City Cancer Program was one of seven organizations in the Baltimore-Washington area to receive grants during yesterday’s closing ceremonies of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C. Actress Reese Witherspoon, the global ambassador for the Avon cosmetics firm and honorary chair of the Avon Foundation, took part in the ceremonies.

The University of Maryland program employs community health liaisons, case managers, nurses and a social worker/patient navigator. It provides screening at two University of Maryland-owned primary care centers (UniversityCare) and 12 other health centers throughout Baltimore. Women who are diagnosed with cancer receive their treatment at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, which is part of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The patient navigator, Stacey Stephens, L.C.S.W.-C., helps to make sure that the women who are screened follow through with additional testing, if needed. If they are diagnosed with cancer, she guides them through the treatment process, working with their case managers and doctors.

“The patient navigator is an integral part of our team. She has one-on-one contact with our patients from the moment something abnormal is discovered and helps the women overcome obstacles, whether they be financial, cultural or related to issues such as a lack of transportation or child care that may serve as barriers to obtaining health care services,” Dr. Garrett-Ray says.

Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and professor of the medicine and pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says the program provides a much-needed service in Baltimore, which has one of the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the state.

“The Baltimore City Cancer Program has made a real impact on the community, helping to detect cancers in a largely underserved population and ultimately saving lives,” Dr. Cullen says. “We’re very proud that the Avon Foundation has recognized the program’s outstanding work.”

The Avon Foundation provides funding for programs that improve the lives of women, focusing on breast cancer and domestic violence. The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade, which was started in 1992, has raised more than $525 million through programs worldwide. The Washington, D.C., walk was the second of nine Avon Walks to be held through October of this year.

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This page was last updated on: May 10, 2010.