Compared to white women, women of color are less likely to receive the recommended screening for breast cancer, according to a just published study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers have hopes that the results will provoke more availability of screenings for minorities.
The group of non-white women – including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans – do not get the recommended mammograms every one to two years, the study results indicate. The study findings could explain why African American women more often are found to have advanced-stage tumors that are terminal.
The study was conducted at the University of California at San Francisco. The lead researcher, a radiologist, evaluated over a million women over age 40 who received mammograms 1996 and 2000.
"I think we've been a little complacent because we thought disparity was no longer a persistent issue," said Rebecca Smith-Bindman, lead author, and associate professor of radiology at UCSF. "It turns out all racial minorities were inadequately screened."
Just 63 percent to 68 percent of African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women were frequently screened, compared with 72 percent of white women.
As for the recommended screenings, 18 percent of white women versus 35 percent of African American women diagnosed with cancer had not gotten the exams.
Hispanic women also had longer intervals between mammograms and were more likely to have advanced-state tumors, much like African American women.
The study found that generally Asian and Native American women were also screened less than white women, however they also less of a likelihood of cancer in general and fewer large, advanced-stage tumors.
The study was based on records from seven mammography registries, including San Francisco; Seattle, Wash.; Colorado; Vermont; New Hampshire; North Carolina and New Mexico.