Black Women Less Likely To Receive Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Black women are less likely than white or Hispanic women to have their breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage, despite that screenings for all three groups have increased in recent years, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, Reuters/Scientific American reports. For the report, lead researcher Franco Sassi of the London School of Economics and Political Science and colleagues examined data from cancer registries in five U.S. states and federal statistics on mammography screening from 1990 through 1998. Over time, screenings for Hispanics, blacks and whites slowly increased, as did the rate of early diagnosis, but the increase was less significant for black women than other groups, the study found. Mammography screening doubled the chances of early diagnosis among white and Hispanic women but increased the chances by only 70% for black women. The reason for the gap is unclear, but researchers suggest that black women might not go to follow-up visits after having an abnormal mammogram. In addition, compared with white and Hispanic women, black women are more likely to be obese, a condition that has been linked to later breast cancer diagnosis, even with screening. Sassi also noted that funding for low-income women to receive follow-up visits is inadequate, while initial screening funding has "done a lot." He recommended that lawmakers focus on ensuring that mammograms lead to early diagnosis, in addition to improving breast cancer screening (Norton, Reuters/Scientific American, 12/5).
An abstract of the study is available online.