Lack of medical coverage, barriers to early detection and screening, and unequal access to improvements in cancer treatment may contribute to those higher death rates.
Although they are more likely to die, African Americans are also less likely to enroll in clinical trials, accounting for only 2.5 percent of participants nationwide.
To help turn the tide, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center is hosting a free informational session from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21, to help African American women learn how they can participate in research by donating breast tissue. Women of all racial groups are welcome to attend. Participation in research adds a minority “voice” to studies by making available information about genetic differences that could impact treatment outcomes for minorities.
The information session will provide women with an overview of the tissue bank and the important role African American women can play by donating their tissue.
Indianapolis resident Jennifer Horton donated breast tissue and a blood sample on May 3. “I decided to donate simply because I want to help find a cure,” Horton said. “The fact that African American women have the highest death rate from breast cancer out of all ethnic groups made me feel an even greater responsibility to donate.”
Horton also had personal reasons for contributing to the tissue bank. “I did it in memory and honor of my mom, to celebrate my cousin, and for my two little girls in hopes that there will be a cure or prevention in their lifetime and mine,” she said.
The information session also will include inspirational speakers, refreshments, and networking opportunities. It will be in the newly-opened Joseph E. Walther Hall, 980 W. Walnut St., on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. Free parking is available in the Wilson Street Garage, north of Riley Hospital for Children. For a helpful map, visit https://www.cancer.iu.edu/.
To make a reservation to attend the session or for more information, call (317) 274-2366 by Monday, May 18.
What is the Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center?
Researchers with the Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center collect samples from both women with and without breast cancer to determine the differences between these populations, which could lead to a better understanding of the disease. It is the only such bank for normal breast tissue in the world.
“Collecting tissue and blood from women who have not had breast cancer provides an opportunity for these donors to give a unique gift to science,” says Susan Clare, M.D., a co-principal investigator of the tissue bank, an assistant professor of surgery at the IU School of Medicine and a researcher with the IU Simon Cancer Center. “Even though these donors will not benefit directly from their donation of blood, they are providing an invaluable resource to enable research that will benefit generations to come.”
The tissue bank will host a tissue collection Saturday, June 1, in the Hematology Clinic and Women’s Center (second floor) at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, 1030 W. Michigan St., in downtown Indianapolis.
For more information about the tissue bank, visit www.komentissuebank.iu.edu.
“Though I was nervous, the volunteers at the tissue bank were awesome,” Horton said. “The doctors and the volunteer staff made sure that I knew that my gift of donation was truly appreciated.”