Five Recipients Honored for Outstanding Work in Breast Cancer Research and Education in New York State

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 19, 2008) -- State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today announced the winners of the 2007 Innovation in Breast Cancer Research and Education Awards. The awards are presented annually to individuals, health professionals and non-profit organizations in recognition of their outstanding commitment to breast cancer research and/or education that has had a significant impact on the lives of New York State residents.

Award winners are Bikur Cholim-Partners in Health, Monsey, Rockland County; Chenango Health Network, Norwich, Chenango County; North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System Breast Initiative, Great Neck, Nassau County; the Research Recruitment and Minority Outreach of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center, Manhattan; and Rebecca Keen-Fan Sze of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in the Chinatown area of Manhattan.

"What is encouraging is that through several state initiatives, including expanded health care coverage for women and the creation of a tax check-off to fund breast cancer research, the five-year survival rate today is more that 98 percent for women diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage," Commissioner Daines said. "We continue to do everything possible to prevent, diagnose early and treat this disease."

The Breast Cancer Research and Education Award winners were selected because of their outstanding contributions and their demonstration of the highest professional standards of excellence in reaching out and serving women and men and their families living with breast cancer. They were also chosen for their innovation and creativity in their fight on breast cancer in New York State and their ability to collaborate with others in their efforts.

"I am honored to recognize the recipients of this award," Dr. Daines said. "Their dedication to assisting New Yorkers living with breast cancer is remarkable. I thank the honorees for their tireless commitment to providing those diagnosed with breast cancer and their families with the highest quality of care, expanded access to cancer screening, information and support services."

The Bikur Cholim-Partners in Health is recognized for its innovative ways to provide health education, prevention and support programs to Jewish communities throughout the state. Through its Women's Breast Health programs, community members host Health Awareness Projects in their own homes, providing information on breast cancer risks and encouraging screenings. The organization has also designed a take-home package for Jewish women diagnosed with breast cancer so that women can obtain the information they need. The programs have reached more than 15,000 women and adolescents throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties.

The Chenango Health Network (CHN) has assumed a leadership role for promoting early detection to all women in Chenango County. CHN and its partners are working to reduce breast cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality through a local campaign. Through its peer-to-peer outreach program, Every Woman Counts in Chenango County, local breast cancer survivors have put a community face on the campaign to heighten awareness about the importance of early detection and cancer screening and to motivate women to follow through with screening.

The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System Breast Initiative, an interdisciplinary group of clinical and non-clinical leaders from a variety of disciplines, came together to develop a comprehensive approach to breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, research and education. Activities include a breast cancer community forum for the public; a breast health website; an employee mammography project to encourage employees to schedule screenings; Sisters United in Health, a collaborative effort of 12 organizations on Long Island to provide breast and cervical cancer information and services to the area's Latinas, African Americans and young women. The group also participates in the state's Cancer Services Program Partnership.

The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center Shared Resource for Research Recruitment and Minority Outreach (RRMO) provides recruitment and follow-up of human subjects in cancer research and serves as a valuable information resource for the community about clinical trials and observational studies. With a special focus on historically underserved racial/ethnic minorities, the RRMO informs the community about the importance of participation in clinical research. Its outreach presentation debunks the myths about research and asks the audience for help answering questions about cancer prevention and control.

Rebecca Keen-Fan Sze of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center provides leadership, structure and guidance to the center's breast cancer screening program. Recognizing that Asian American women have poor breast screening rates, she has sought to increase education and awareness about cancer for Asian American women. She also trains future practitioners about delivering culturally competent breast health services and addressing the linguistic and social barriers when providing services. Through her tireless efforts and creativity, Ms. Sze has raised the community's awareness about breast cancer, enabled Asian American women to receive vital health screening, and empowered them to maintain control of their own health care.

Each year, approximately 15,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in New York State, and more than 2,800 die from the disease. Breast cancer inflicts a significant toll on the health of New Yorkers. Since 1995, tremendous progress has been made in efforts to control and prevent cancer and provide enhanced health care services for those New Yorkers diagnosed with cancer.

New York state funds breast and cervical cancer screening programs in every county and in the five boroughs of New York City to promote early detection through the Cancer Services Partnership Program. The goal is to increase the number of women who get routine screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Approximately 65,000 women are screened each year through the Cancer Services Partnerships. Annually, the State Health Department dedicates $1 million to support initiatives that provide expanded access to legal services, day care and transportation to survivors of cancer and their families.

The awards are selected by the New York State Breast and Cervical Cancer Detection and Education Program Advisory Council, the members of which are appointed by the Governor and the State Legislature to recognize and promote innovation in breast cancer prevention, early detection and research. The council reviews nominations solicited from public and private organizations statewide.