KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Black Women May Need Different Mammogram Guidelines

"Many African-American women don't fit the profile of the average American woman who gets breast cancer. For them, putting off the first mammogram until 50 - as recommended by a government task force - could put their life in danger," NPR reports. "Lovell Jones, director of the Center for Research on Minority health at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, "says the guidelines recently put out by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force covered a broad segment of American women based on the data available. 'Unfortunately,' he says, 'the data on African-Americans, Hispanics and to some extent Asian-Americans is limited.' So while the recommendations may be appropriate for the general population, he says, it could have a deleterious affect on African-American women who appear to have a higher risk of developing very deadly breast cancers at early in life."

Death statistics for breast cancer in African-American women shows that "[b]eginning in their 20s, into their 50s, black women are twice as likely to die of breast cancer as white women who have breast cancer. ... African-American women aren't getting screened for breast cancer as often as white women and when they do it is later in life. … There are also questions about the care that African-American women are receiving, whether they are referred to cancer specialists in a timely way, and understand that they will need therapy after surgery. With all the issues surrounding black women and breast cancer, health professionals argue there should be separate guidelines for African-American women" (Wilson, 12/7).

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