Chicago's Zip Code Issue with Melissa Simon, MD
In Chicago, where you live can impact your likelihood to die from cancer. Melissa Simon, MD, wants to change that. Find out how this scientist, educator and advocate for the underserved is working to improve the cancer mortality gap in Chicago.
"Why was this happening to women when they're in the same city with the same five very large, well-known academic medical centers and other community hospitals and clinics across the city and not to mention millions of dollars in research funding around breast cancer being poured into the city?"
— Melissa Simon, MD
- Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Director, Institute for Public Health and Medicine's Center for Health Equity Transformation
It's a fact: Where you live can impact your likelihood to die from cancer. Melissa Simon, MD, wants to change that. She's dedicated her career at Northwestern to health equity outreach and studies. In particular, her work has focused on improving cancer rates in Latino, African-American and Chinese communities.
In Chicago, depending on where you live, there are issues with access, awareness and education when it comes to cancer and other health-related issues.
In 2007, when Simon began at Feinberg, data demonstrated a disparity in breast cancer mortality of 62 percent between black patients and white patients in the Chicago area.
Melissa Simon: "Why was this happening to women when they're in the same city with the same five very large, well-known academic medical centers and other community hospitals and clinics across the city and not to mention millions of dollars in research funding around breast cancer being poured into the city?"
Simon and her group created the Chicago Metropolitan task force to focus on this data and figure out why this was happening.
Melissa Simon: "There were many reasons for the difference in the cancer rate, but the top three included that black women were getting mammograms but weren't receiving their results. The quality of mammography was not consistent across the city, including the reading of mammography and treatment and follow-up were not consistent across the city. So some women were getting diagnosed with cancer but having delays in entering treatment or not entering treatment at all. And then there were problems with follow-up once enrolled in treatment."
Simon says the death rate differential has been reduced to 40 percent in the past decade.
Melissa Simon: "So that is closing and it is very promising, that we've been able to turn this around, but it has taken a lot of effort."
Read more about Simon's work.
Melissa Simon has nothing to disclose.
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