Health Team

Edgecombe Fighting Bad Numbers About Breast Cancer

Posted October 30, 2007

— Breast cancer survival overall has improved because of better screening methods and treatment, but there are some dramatic exceptions, including what happens to women in Edgecombe County.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s best-known breast-cancer advocacy group, lists Edgecombe County as having the 16th-worst mortality rate for breast cancer in the United States.

Nationally, an average of 26.4 percent of women with breast cancer will die from it. In Edgecombe County, the disease claims 38 percent of those who have it.

County leaders hope to turn those numbers around.

Wendell “Wick” Baker, president of Heritage Hospital in Tarboro, is part of a county task force that was formed to promote early detection of breast cancer. The group also wants to know why their death rate is so high.

“We don't want to be on that list,” Backer said.

A look at the Edgecombe County statistics does not turn up some of the disparities that often explain different health-care outcomes.

A Komen for the Cure report showed that just as many Caucasian women died from the disease in the county as did African Americans. Komen for the Cure grants pay for screening for uninsured and under-insured patients, so low income should not keep woman away.

Instead, it may be that not enough women understand how important screening is.

Among county employees, there are 227 women aged 40 and older. Insurance records show only 147 − or 65 percent − of them had mammograms.

”So it's not just poor women who don't have health insurance. These numbers and these women are women who work, have jobs,” said Eric Evans of the county Economic Development Office.

To try to change the numbers, the Task Force is starting an awareness campaign and arranging free transportation to get women to screening sites.

Marva G. Scott has never missed an annual exam and, as county social services director, she's getting the word out to women who've never done it.

“I think there is some fear among others that if I go, I may find out something I don't want to find out,” Scott said. But she added, “It's worth it for every woman to encourage the next woman to do the same.”

The best reason is that in the case of breast cancer, it's what you do know that can save your life.

Heritage Hospital in Tarboro is the only site in Edgecombe County that provides mammograms. The nearest alternative sites are in Rocky Mount and Greenville.


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  • jkuwalik2 Oct 31, 2007

    Best way for them to turn the numbers around id education a early diagnosis. They will probably turn the numbers around by manipulating them though.

  • Cleanup on Aisle Cool Oct 31, 2007

    From the Komen website:

    Washington, D.C. – April 26, 2007 – Susan G. Komen for the Cure today is releasing Breast Cancer Mortality Report: Closing the Gaps in Eight Communities along with a documentary which digs deep into eight communities with unusually high breast cancer mortality rates. The report reveals shocking racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates, tremendous barriers that prevent low-income women from receiving care, and disturbing gaps in the implementation of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act that enable states to refuse treatment for women based on where they are screened.

    Eight communities studied
    The eight communities studied in the Komen report include: Chicago, IL; Madison County, MS; Moultrie Country, IL; McDowell County, WV; Edgecombe County, NC; Harlem, NY; Washington, DC; and Wayne County, MI.

  • shine Oct 31, 2007

    blindjustice 07......... I was not trying to criticize...... and I live in the Hobgood - Speed area now..... grew up in the Tarboro City Limits... across from where Advance Auto Parts and Andy's is today. I delivered the newspaper to Runnymede as a kid.
    I was talking with my dad a few minutes ago about this story, he said that for years that women in Tarboro had to travel to get a mammagram. Now they have the service and if you do the averages..... there were probably a bunch that couldn't travel to Greenville or Rocky Mount or wherever.
    The Tarboro water is great for bathing - Lord I did from 12 to about 25...... I just love my well water and there is a difference not just in Tarboro......

  • nomercy Oct 31, 2007

    Early detection is extremely important but even more important is what can we do to prevent cancer (and other diseases)? I am reading an excellent book about the impact of nutrition on our health and recommend that everyone read it. "The China Study". It is available at your public library or for purchase online or local bookstores.

  • blindjustice07 Oct 31, 2007

    I agree with the part about people being afraid to be screened because of what they may find out. You hear about people who were fine until the went to the doctor and they found a tumor and then instantly they wither away to nothing. It scares you. I was having some problems over the last 4 years and some of the indications pointed to a cancer. I was very afraid and would not see my doctor, for that very reason. I just knew I had it, but I didn't want to know it. Finally, this year, I went, and it turned out to be something minor. It really does scare you though.

  • blindjustice07 Oct 31, 2007

    I'm sitting in Tarboro right now. I live here too, in the Runnymede district. (Not the most expensive, and not the poorest either.) I grew up in the country near Speed and Hobgood and lived off of well water. Now, I fully admit, if you are in the right location, there is nothing to beat good well water. However, I don't taste anything wrong with the water here. I certainly don't smell anything, I shower in it every morning. (Including this one.) The only issue with mine is that the cold water is very warm in the summer. I do know that they changed the chemicals, I think last year or year before last. I heard it had something to do with the old chemicals that they were using being deemed unsafe by some researchers or something.

  • shine Oct 31, 2007

    I grew up in Tarboro..... Maybe they need to examine the water there (drinking water)...... It is awful now, compared to when I grew up........ I have well water and my parents still live in Tarboro. I get heartburn from drinking their water or having tea with ice........ you can smell the chemicals and they have filtration systems on their water.......

    It may not not have anything to do with it but I know that has been the most drastic thing I can think of - for a while.

  • knowyourrole Oct 30, 2007

    Makes you wonder if Hurricane Floyd (1999) is the culprit since this county was devasted by that flood.