More than just words

Black women with breast cancer are approximately 40% more likely to die compared to white women with breast cancer in the U.S.1 – and are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage with more aggressive disease2

Novartis will enlist multidisciplinary experts in breast cancer and health policy to identify the most pressing issues facing Black women in breast cancer and collaborate to build solutions

With breast cancer surpassing lung cancer as the world’s most commonly diagnosed cancer3 and screenings drastically down due to COVID-194,5, now is the time to act

More Than Just Words reflects the longstanding Novartis commitment to improving lives of patients with breast cancer

East Hanover, May 26, 2021 - Novartis today announced the launch of More Than Just Words, a multiyear commitment to promote health equity in breast cancer care, where there is significant unmet need. Black women under the age of 35 are diagnosed with breast cancer at twice the rate of white women the same age6. During 2020, breast cancer became the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, while at the same time, breast cancer screenings overall have decreased drastically3,4. With COVID-19 and breast cancer disproportionately impacting women of color and drops in screenings threatening timely diagnoses and cancer care, it is more urgent than ever to address the disparities in breast cancer for Black women7,8. Novartis will collaborate with leading multidisciplinary experts to raise awareness and create solutions that drive health equity across the continuum of breast cancer care and urge women to get the screening or care they need as soon as possible.  

“Our commitment to reimagining medicine at Novartis goes beyond developing therapeutics to helping close historical gaps in treatment and care of underserved communities,” said Marion Brooks, Vice President and US Country Head, Diversity and Inclusion, Novartis. “Knowing that Black women have a higher incidence of or are at a greater risk for certain diseases, like breast cancer, we must work with other organizations to move forward together to successfully address health equity and access issues. We are at a critical juncture where we can change the course of diagnosis and care for all women.”

Novartis is committed to creating solutions and funding programs to improve breast cancer care for Black women. Learn how you can help close this serious gap and connect to resources by visiting www.MoreThanJustWords.US.

Hear from More Than Just Words Advisors

Monique Gary

Every day I see the impact of delayed screenings and checkups due to COVID-19, including more advanced diagnoses,” said Monique Gary, DO, MSc, FACS, Medical Director of the Grand View Health Cancer Program and More Than Just Words Advisor. “Unfortunately, Black women already experience later detection and delayed diagnoses, resulting in fewer care options and harder-to-treat disease for our patients. It is critical to act now to broaden awareness and change these statistics, because they represent more than just data: they are our mothers, daughters, sisters, partners and spouses, our friends.

Monique Gary, DO, MSc, FACS
Medical Director of the Grand View Health Cancer Program
and More Than Just Words Advisor

Jamil Rivers

Personally and professionally, I commit to addressing the systemic and racial biases Black women with breast cancer face every day,” said Jamil Rivers, Founder and CEO, The Chrysalis Initiative, Board President, METAvivor Research and Support, Inc., metastatic breast cancer patient and More Than Just Words Advisor. “I am frustrated by our current reality, but remain hopeful that together we can identify and support measurable change through this initiative.

Jamil Rivers
Founder and CEO, The Chrysalis Initiative, Board President, METAvivor Research
and Support, Inc., metastatic breast cancer patient and More Than Just Words Advisor

Ricki Fairley

There is a great need to address the devastating reality that Black women often do not receive the same quality of breast cancer care as other women. On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic and the spotlight on inequities being experienced by communities of color in the United States, we are calling for a collective commitment to demand better for the Black breast cancer community,” said Ricki Fairley, Co-founder and CEO of TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance and More Than Just Words Advisor. “Convening experts to amplify the issues regarding Black breast cancer and devise a plan of action – as Novartis has – is instrumental to addressing the systemic issues that lead to health disparities.

Ricki Fairley
Co-founder and CEO of TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance
and More Than Just Words Advisor

Impactful Voices

Listen in as Latoya and Stephanie share more about their breast cancer care experience

A Black Woman's Guide to "The Breast Cancer Talk" With Doctors


The Health Care Professional’s Guide to Connecting With Black Patients From Screening to Breast Cancer Care


Read the Results from our More Than Just Words Survey

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Novartis from April 20-28, 2021 among 1,012 U.S. women (505 Black women and 507 white women) ages 40 and older. Results were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Social Determinants of Health and Disparities in Breast Cancer

The social, economic and physical conditions – in places where people live, learn, work and play – that influence health outcomes of people are what the CDC defines as social determinants of health9. When health outcomes are better or worse from one population to the next, there is disparity. Health disparities have impacts reaching far beyond those directly affected by limiting advancements in care and result in avoidable costs10. For example, the American Public Health Association found racial disparities in health led to an estimated $93 billion in excess medical care costs and $42 billion in lost productivity11.

Black women are approximately 40% more likely to die of breast cancer and have a higher incidence of early-age onset breast cancer before age 501. Further, since 1990, breast cancer death rates only decreased by 26% in Black women in contrast to 40% in white women, underscoring the urgency of the disparity12. Implicit biases and underrepresentation of Black providers, who comprise only ~2% of practicing oncologists, contribute to communication barriers and access to quality, consistent, culturally-competent care13.

About Novartis in Breast Cancer

Novartis tackles breast cancer with superior science, collaboration and a passion for transforming patient care. We've taken a bold approach to our research by including patient populations often neglected in clinical trials, identifying new pathways or mutations that may play a role in disease progression and developing therapies that not only maintain, but also improve, quality of life for patients. Our priority over the past 30 years and today is to deliver treatments proven to improve and extend lives for those diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.


This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements can generally be identified by words such as “potential,” “can,” “will,” “plan,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “look forward,” “believe,” “committed,” “investigational,” “pipeline,” “launch,” or similar terms, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential marketing approvals, new indications or labeling for the investigational or approved products described in this press release, or regarding potential future revenues from such products. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on our current beliefs and expectations regarding future events, and are subject to significant known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. There can be no guarantee that the investigational or approved products described in this press release will be submitted or approved for sale or for any additional indications or labeling in any market, or at any particular time. Nor can there be any guarantee that such products will be commercially successful in the future. In particular, our expectations regarding such products could be affected by, among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, including clinical trial results and additional analysis of existing clinical data; regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; global trends toward health care cost containment, including government, payor and general public pricing and reimbursement pressures and requirements for increased pricing transparency; our ability to obtain or maintain proprietary intellectual property protection; the particular prescribing preferences of physicians and patients; general political, economic and business conditions, including the effects of and efforts to mitigate pandemic diseases such as COVID-19; safety, quality, data integrity or manufacturing issues; potential or actual data security and data privacy breaches, or disruptions of our information technology systems, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG’s current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis

Located in East Hanover, NJ, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation – an affiliate of Novartis – is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis employs nearly 16,000 people in the United States. For more information, please visit

Novartis and Novartis US are on Twitter. Sign up to follow @Novartis at and @NovartisUS at
For Novartis multimedia content, please visit
For questions about the site or required registration, please contact [email protected].


  1. Richardson LC, Henley SJ, Miller JW, Massetti G, Thomas CC. Patterns and Trends in Age-Specific Black-White Differences in Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality – United States, 1999–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:1093–1098. DOI:
  2. JAMA Network. Race, Breast Cancer Subtypes, and Survival in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study. Available at: Accessed February 24, 2021.
  3. Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel RL, Laversanne M, Soerjomataram I, Jemal A, Bray F. Global Cancer Statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN Estimates of Incidence and Mortality Worldwide for 36 Cancers in 185 Countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020.
  4. Delay in cancer screening and diagnosis during the covid-19 pandemic: What is the cost? (2020, September 22). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from
  5. Sharpless NE. COVID‐19 and cancer. Science 2020; 368: 1290.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). African American Women: “Take Action” Infographic. Available at:,women%20of%20the%20same%20age. Accessed May 10, 2021.
  7. Carethers JM, Sengupta R, Blakey R, Ribas A, D'Souza G. Disparities in Cancer Prevention in the COVID-19 Era. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2020 Nov;13(11):893-896. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0447. Epub 2020 Sep 17. PMID: 32943438.
  8. Stokes EK, Zambrano LD, Anderson KN, et al. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Case Surveillance — United States, January 22–May 30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:759–765. DOI:
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Social Determinants of Health: Know What Affects Health. Available at: Accessed August 20, 2020.
  10. Clark LT, Watkins L, Pina IL, et al. Increasing Diversity in Clinical Trials. Current Problems in Cardiology. 2019; 44(5):148-175.
  11. US Census Bureau. Quick Facts. Available at: Accessed August 27, 2020.
  12. Journal of Breast imaging. Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations: African American Women Are at a Disadvantage. Available at: Accessed February 24, 2021.
  13. Facts & FIGURES: Diversity in oncology. (2021, February 05). Retrieved April 20, 2021, from