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ACCESS Health Dept. Receives $65K Breast Cancer Awareness Grant

posted on: Jan 28, 2012

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A grant announced this week will assist continued efforts of cancer awareness and detection within Dearborn’s Arab-American community and beyond.

The $65,000 grant from the Avon Foundation’s Breast Health Outreach will provide funding to the Community Health and Research Center arm of Dearborn nonprofit ACCESS, aimed at increasing awareness of the lifesaving benefits of early detection of breast cancer.

It is the 14th year running that ACCESS has received funding from the Avon Foundation for Women.

The Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program at ACCESS Community Health and Research Center will educate women older than 40 who reside in metro Detroit and refer them to low-cost or free mammograms and clinical breast exams in their own communities. The vital program will also:

• Break down the educational, logistical and financial barriers that prevent many women from obtaining breast or cervical cancer early detection services

• Raise community awareness about breast and cervical cancer

• Stress that every woman needs to follow an early detection screening program

through outreach advocacy

• Focus on the special needs of Arab American women

Since the beginning of the BCCCP program in 1997, ACCESS has reached out to tens of thousands of local women with information about breast cancer; almost 19,000 women have been referred through ACCESS for mammograms and clinical breast exams.

The program targets a specific need for education within the Arab American community, where cultural and economic barriers can sometimes get in the way of proper health care.

“Many barriers, such as cultural inhibitions toward cancer, fear, transportation and language, or lack of a doctor’s recommendation, prevent women from practicing good breast health,” said Dr. Adnan Hammad, director of ACCESS Community Health and Research Center. “There is a tremendous need to reach women with information and resources. We are grateful that the Avon Foundation for Women shares this mission and has chosen to support our program.”

The grant comes at a time when a large influx of Iraqi refugees to the region–combined with the closure of Dearborn’s Health Department­–has resulted in an uptick in the need for health services provided by ACCESS.

“It’s like we’re starting from scratch,” program supervisor Hiam Hamade said of the new immigrant population. “Those people don’t have any education about cancer and they never had a screening, so we are visiting them.”

But beyond new immigrants, astudy conducted by the Michigan Department of Community Health demonstrated the need for cancer screening and education among the Arab American population statewide.

In a survey of more than 1,000 Arab Americans, 11.6 percent reported having some form of cancer, while only 26.6 percent were aware of having been tested for cancer in their lifetime. Among women, 44.8 percent had never had a pap smear, and 30.9 percent of women older than 40 had never had a mammogram. Among men, 60.1 percent reported never having had a rectal exam, and 45.6 percent had never had a PSA blood test.

The ACCESS clinic screens up to 2,500 people per year, but with limited federal money for health care in the Arab American community, the need for funding remains great.

Since 1993, the Avon Foundation has funded more than 1,550 grants to community-based breast health programs across the United States, including BCCCP at the ACCESS Community Health and Research Center. These programs are dedicated to educating underserved women about breast cancer and linking them with early detection screening services.

Jessica Carreras
Dearborn Patch