Susan G. Komen® and Health Equity: The 2015 Kelly Report and the Crisis in African-American Health Care

WASHINGTON--()--Calling breast cancer death rates in African-American women a “crisis that cannot be ignored,” the president and CEO of the nation’s largest breast cancer organization today praised U.S. Rep. Robin L. Kelly, D-Ill., for addressing health equity for African-Americans in a comprehensive new report.

Susan G. Komen President and CEO Dr. Judith A. Salerno’s comments came in the 2015 Kelly Report on Health Disparities in America, released today by Kelly, of Chicago, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. The report addresses a wide range of issues that disproportionately affect health outcomes in the African-American community. Komen contributed to the report section on breast cancer.

Salerno noted that African-American women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer but are as much as 44 percent more likely to die of it. “This reflects a wide range of genetic, cultural and socio-economic issues, but one thing is clear: breast cancer mortality rates in the African-American community constitute a health crisis that cannot be ignored,” Salerno said in the report.

She called for equal access to high-quality cancer care and pointed to Komen’s own efforts in addressing disparities in health outcomes for African-Americans.

Salerno also cited the Chicago Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force as an example of a program that is already helping to narrow the gap. Founded in Chicago in 2007 with $1 million in Komen funding and additional funding from the Avon Foundation and others, the Task Force focused on quality of care at Chicago medical institutions, as well as collaboration between hospitals, government, healthcare and nonprofit organizations in the Chicago area. Komen has since contributed another $1.6 million for the Task Force’s work.

“Breast cancer death rates in African-American women were an alarming 62 percent higher for women in Chicago’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods versus more affluent areas of the region,” Salerno said. “The work of the Task Force has resulted in a stunning 35 percent reduction in the death rate gap between African-American women and white women in the region.”

Salerno has identified health equity as a key priority for Komen. Komen is convening roundtables of community, health care and nonprofit leaders in 10 communities where disparities in breast cancer outcomes for African-American women are greatest, such as Memphis, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Dallas. Komen also has invested more than $90 million in scientific research to identify genetic and socio-economic factors that lead to health disparities, and in 2015 alone has invested almost $25 million in community health programs specifically targeting African-American women.

In addition to breast cancer, the Kelly Report addresses issues such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and health care access in the African-American community. “This grim snapshot illustrates that we have much ground to cover in closing the health equity gap,” Kelly said. “Your ethnicity, zip code, and bank balance should never determine your health.”

The full report can be accessed here.

To learn more about breast cancer in African-American women and Komen’s initiative, visit Susan G. Komen’s website here.

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen is world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $847 million in research and provided $1.8 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at


Susan G. Komen
Andrea Rader, 972-855-4382

Release Summary

Komen President and CEO Judy Salerno praised U.S. Rep. Robin L. Kelly, for addressing health care equity gaps for African-Americans in 2015 Kelly Report.


Susan G. Komen
Andrea Rader, 972-855-4382