2.14.2017

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DISPARITIES IN BREAST CANCER SCREENING? *


According to the American Cancer Society, there will be more than 231,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed amongst women in the Unites States during 2015. 

The best way to beat this disease is with early detection,
and mammography screenings are a critical tool in detecting breast cancer at an early stage.

It’s no surprise that some women are less likely than others to get mammography screening.

There are specific reasons for disparities in breast cancer screenings in the U.S., which may explain some of the disparities in mammography screening rates among certain populations of women, such as women from different racial and ethnic groups.

For African-American women, the risk of getting breast cancer is lower than for white women, but the risk of dying from breast cancer is higher. For example, in 2011, African-American women had a 44 percent higher rate of breast cancer deaths than white women.

Hispanic/Latina women have lower rates of breast cancer and breast cancer mortality compared to non-Hispanic African American and non-Hispanic white women, however, breast cancer is still the most common cancer (and the leading cause of cancer death) among Hispanic/Latina women.

The number one reason women are skipping mammograms is lack of health insurance.  Women who don’t have health insurance are much less likely to get mammograms than women with health insurance.   In 2010, only 32 percent of women ages 40 and older with no health insurance had a mammogram within the past two years compared to 71 percent of those with insurance.

Low income also contributes to women skipping mammograms
Data shows that women with annual incomes under $15,000 were significantly less likely to have had a mammogram compared with more affluent women living in urban areas.
Some state and local health programs and employers are actually providing mammograms free or at low cost. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coordinates the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides screening services, including clinical breast exams and mammograms, to low-income, uninsured women throughout the United States and in several U.S. territories.


It’s time to promote these options to the women who need it.

Education also makes the list of disparities in screenings.
Women without a high school education are less likely to have had a mammogram than women with more education.

As a society, we must increase awareness of breast cancer risks and screening methods.  Lack of conveniently located mammography centers or lack of transportation to a screening center is another top reason women are opting to skip their screenings.

These reasons are not acceptable in our modern-day society and there's hope that funds collected through October can be used to improve breast cancer awareness for all racial and ethnic groups.

Remember, if you’ve had surgery for breast cancer, such as lumpectomy or mastectomy, or you’ve had breast implants, you’ll likely follow different recommendations for having screening mammograms than women generally do. A breast reconstruction plastic surgeon can help you navigate what you need to do. 

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