Database Home List Initiatives Submit to Database
Search Database List Success Stories Locator Map

A Partnership to Reduce Breast Cancer Disparities in Allegheny County

State: Pennsylvania

Submitted Date: 2020

Public Health Issue

Through participation in the 2018 ASTHO/CDC Breast Cancer Learning Community project, Pennsylvania analyzed disparities across geography and race identified populations with the highest disparities. 

African American women have a higher mortality and late stage incidence age adjusted rate, but the same does not hold true when all invasive breast cancer is analyzed.  With the help of the Bureau of Health Informatics, the Breast Cancer Index was developed. The index was calculated using: late stage incidence, mortality and 5-year net cancer survival. Different weights were assigned to each measure, with breast cancer mortality rate having the greatest weight.  The Breast Cancer Index for Black women was particularly high in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties, which have the highest Black population in Pennsylvania. Many high-quality services are found in both the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia region; however, it is unclear whether those most in need of those services can access them.  

Program Action

The Pennsylvania Division of Cancer Prevention and Control used additional funding from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to a reduce breast cancer disparities by partnering with the Allegheny County Breast Collaborative to increase capacity and target high need communities in Allegheny County.

The Allegheny County Breast Collaborative (ACBC) is a group of more than 20 representatives from community, health care and academic organizations dedicated to building a network of community support, engagement and advocacy for underserved women. The goal of the project is to reach individuals in a high disparity community, facilitate access to clinical services and ensure screening completion. The following steps were taken to address breast cancer disparities in Allegheny County

1. Health outcome data and GIS mapping identified four high need communities: Braddock, the Hill District, McKeesport and Penn Hills. This project focused on activities in Braddock and McKeesport.

2. Identify barriers and facilitators to breast cancer screening by concept mapping.


  • limited screening hours
  • transportation and child care
  • lack of trust in the medical community 
  • fear of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment


  • strong community leaders
  • local high-quality health care services
  • support from the PA Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and Susan G. Komen Foundation for screening

3. Partner with trusted community organizations and local health care services to:

  • increase community demand for cancer screening through media and education
  • reduce structural barriers through patient navigation and setting up alternative screening sites
  • establish sustainable medical care by linking individuals to a medical home

After six months;

  • 126 women were evaluated for screening; 26 enrolled in the PA Brest & Cervical Early Detection Program
  • 12 events were held; established relationship with Healthy Living Center in McKeesport. 
  • 375 women were reached through community events
  • 1 church and 1 community center were identified
  • 2 billboards were erected
  • 1 one Breast Cancer Surgeon was identified as a breast cancer community expert

Particularly successful was “Gateway to Wellness” meeting, which was held on a Saturday. A breast screening event for women 35-50 years of age was embedded in the conference agenda. As a result of this event, 17 women were identified in need of screening, 12 qualified for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Early Detection Program and 3 received Komen vouchers and 4 needed further evaluation.  Clients were directly navigated to a mammography center at University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center; Hillman offered Saturday screening hours to increase access to services.

Joanna Stoms
Pennsylvania Department of Health