African American Initiative

Komen African American Initiative

The disparities are shocking!  Breast cancer is the most common cancer among black women in the US, and it is the second most common cause of cancer in this group, second only to lung cancer.  Despite generally similar screening rates, breast cancer is detected at an advanced stage more often in black than in white women.  This difference has been largely attributed to longer intervals between mammograms and lack of timely follow-up of suspicious results.  And… aggressive tumor characteristics are more common in breast cancers diagnosed in black women than in other racial/ethnic groups.  24% of breast cancers in black women are referred to as triple negative, compared to 8-12% of those among other races/ethnicities in the US.  Premenopausal black women appear to be at particular risk of triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive type of breast cancer associated with shorter survival.  Breast cancer mortality is nearly 41% higher in black women than in white women in the US.

Susan G. Komen OR & SW WA is looking to move beyond the education and outreach of our successful Worship in Pink program, to a multi-year project that focuses on reducing the breast cancer disparities between African American and white women.  Thanks to a grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program, we were able to hire a team of independent contractors from Portland’s African American community who, in 2018, collected the quantitative and qualitative data that is needed to inform the development of a multi-year project that will address these disparities and assisted Komen in developing an African American Initiative Advisory Council. The African American Initiative Advisory Council includes leaders from the African American community, male and female breast cancer survivors, organizations that work with the community, and area health systems. 80% of the Council is black / African American. The Council’s role is to guide and provide input into the development of a multi-year project that addresses the disparities.

In 2020, we hired a program manager, Tai Harden-Moore, JD, MBA, who knows the community and will spearhead the project for the next 5 years.


  • We are incredibly grateful for initial funding / project support from the following partner organizations, as well as from private donations:
    • CareOregon
    • Genentech
    • Medline Foundation
    • OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program
    • Providence Cancer Institute/Providence Health System
    • Wells Fargo
    • Zidell Family Foundation

Resources / More Information


Check out this media on Komen’s African American Initiative Data Collection efforts:

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