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Dr. Mary Lou Adams
Cancer Research at UT: A solid foundation for a medical school

Diagnosing Disparities

Dr. Mary Lou Adams marked the new millennium with a serious mission —empowering and educating African American women to take control of their health.

Adams, associate professor in the School of Nursing at The University of Texas at Austin, led the African American Breast Cancer Outreach, a five-year project that started in 2002 and targeted women in Dallas, Houston and Tyler.

Adams didn’t sugarcoat the critical message: African American women have a 32 percent higher death rate from breast cancer than white women.

Money and access to health care were certainly determining factors in this racial disparity, but Adams discovered another key reason was fear of a diagnosis, which led many women to avoid mammograms.

By the end of the project, 8,000 women had been screened for breast cancer, and 100 were diagnosed —and successfully treated.

As one of the project participants said, Adams “got the ball rolling to save my life.”

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