Study finds delay in follow-up among African-American women receiving abnormal breast finding

October 26, 2009

A new analysis has identified a significant delay in follow-up times among African-American women after the finding of a suspicious breast abnormality. Published in the December 15, 2009 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that African-American women may face obstacles to receiving appropriate breast cancer-related care.

In the United States, and particularly South Carolina, African-American suffer disproportionately higher mortality rates from breast cancer compared to white women. Studies have indicated that African-American women experience significantly longer time intervals from an abnormal mammogram to diagnostic testing or are less likely to comply with recommended diagnostic follow-up exams within six months of an abnormal mammogram.

To investigate further, Swann Arp Adams, MS, PhD, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and her colleagues studied medical data from participants of the Best Chance Network, a state-wide service program that provides free mammography screenings to economically disadvantaged and medically underserved women. The program is part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). Dr. Adams and her team analyzed tumor characteristics and patients' adherence to recommended tests following abnormal mammograms.

While African-American women were just as likely as white women to complete diagnostic procedures after abnormal mammography findings, there was a significantly longer time between the first clinical exam and to complete a diagnostic follow-up (median time = 44 days for African Americans and 40 days for European Americans). When time was measured in the number of days between the mammogram and the date of final status, a significant effect of race was no longer evident. Because the clinical breast examination typically precedes the diagnostic mammogram, these findings suggest that the racial differences may occur early in the process. While the reasons for the delay are unknown, they may result from poor communication between patient and doctor, lack of patient trust in her doctor, lack of transportation, proximity of clinics to the patient, and other factors.

The researchers say evidence indicates delayed follow-up of breast abnormalities can result in detecting the breast cancer at a later stage, pointing to one study that found a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer of as little as three months is associated with lower survival than those with prompt follow-up.

The researchers add that the finding of no disparities existing in the overall completion of the follow-up is an encouraging evaluation of the NBCCEDP, as it suggests that the program is making progress toward eliminating racial disparities in breast cancer and offer areas for strengthening.

"Programs specially aimed at providing breast cancer screening to economically disadvantaged women like the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program are successful in eliminating some of the racial disparities seen in ," said Dr. Adams. "There are still improvements that could be made in the program to help identify and eliminate barriers to timely completion of testing procedures," she added.

More information: "Racial differences in follow-up of abnormal mammography findings among economically disadvantaged women." Swann Arp Adams, Emily Rose Smith, James Hardin, Irene Prabhu Das, Jeanette Fulton, and James R. Hebert. Cancer; Published Online: October 26, 2009, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24633

Source: American Cancer Society (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Atoh1, a potential Achilles' heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma

December 12, 2017
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of solid brain tumor in children. Current treatments offer limited success and may leave patients with severe neurological side effects, including psychiatric disorders, growth retardation ...

Cancer-causing mutation suppresses immune system around tumours

December 12, 2017
Mutations in 'Ras' genes, which drive 25% of human cancers by causing tumour cells to grow, multiply and spread, can also protect cancer cells from the immune system, finds a new study from the Francis Crick Institute and ...

Drug suppresses spread of breast cancer caused by stem-like cells

December 12, 2017
Rare stem-like tumor cells play a critical role in the spread of breast cancer, but a vulnerability in the pathway that powers them offers a strategy to target these cells using existing drugs before metastatic disease occurs, ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

Scientists discover possible master switch for programming cancer immunotherapy

December 11, 2017
During infection or tumor growth, a type of specialized white blood cells called CD8+ T cells rapidly multiply within the spleen and lymph nodes and acquire the ability to kill diseased cells. Some of these killer T cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.