NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NINR Lecture Explores Health Disparities in Cancer

Dr. Grady presents plaque to Dr. Millon-Underwood.
NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady (l) lauds Dr. Sandra Millon-Underwood for a career focusing on minority populations, including African-American women with breast cancer.

Dr. Sandra Millon-Underwood, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, closed out NINR’s 30th-anniversary commemorative year with a NINR Director’s lecture, “Evidence-based Interventions to Address Health Disparities in Cancer.”

In introductory remarks, NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady lauded Millon-Underwood’s career focusing on minority populations, including African-American women with breast cancer, citing her “dedication to improving access for women, minorities, the disadvantaged and the underserved to state-of-the-art cancer prevention and control programs.”

Millon-Underwood described the disparate burden of breast cancer on African-American women, noting that this population is more likely than white women to die from the disease, to be diagnosed at a later stage and to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

Additionally, many African-American women face impediments to quality treatment, including fear and mistrust of medical institutions, myths and misperceptions about breast cancer treatment and screening, inadequate follow-up, bias and cost.

To help address these disparities, Millon-Underwood developed an intervention, Nurses Affecting Change Partner in Pursuit of the Promise B’CAUSSSE (Breast Cancer Awareness, Understanding, Screening, Survivor Support and Empowerment).

Through this intervention, clinicians are trained to understand the needs of women in low-income areas who are at increased risk for breast cancer and to allay their fears and concerns. The intervention facilitates access to screening and quality care and engages patients in their own care.

Citing former Surgeon General David Satcher, Millon-Underwood noted that “the research enterprise is a relay, not a sprint.” She encouraged attendees to pass the baton of nursing science by training the next generation and disseminating findings that can have real effects on the lives of women and their families.

Citing another significant influence on her career—her own father—Millon-Underwood encouraged those in attendance to continually look for and respond to the community’s needs. Using her father’s words, she reminded those in attendance that if they think there are issues that don’t affect individuals at the community level, they should “keep living.”

Video of Millon-Underwood’s lecture will soon be available on NINR’s YouTube channel at

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