Racial differences, poverty linked to mammography use

COLUMBUS, Ohio Better detection and treatment are helping to reduce death from breast cancer in America, but poor, rural and minority women especially Native Americans face barriers that keep them from taking advantage of cancer screenings that could potentially save their lives, researchers say.

The new study, to be published Dec. 1 in the journal Cancer, will appear online Oct. 25 in the Cancer newsroom at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/cancer-newsroom.

Electra Paskett, director of the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, led a team of scientists at Ohio State and the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in studying hundreds of women in Robeson County, N.C. The area is one of the poorest in the state, and is home to the largest concentration of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River.

In trying to identify a way to increase use of mammography among poor, rural women over age 40, researchers surveyed 897 women (33 percent African American, 41 percent Native American, 25 percent white) about their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding breast and cervical cancer screening.

The women selected from patient records at a major area health care provider were all identified as needing a mammogram.

Researchers discovered that overall, the women had poor knowledge about cancer screening. For example, when asked to identify a way to test for breast cancer, 43 percent of the sample was not able to name or describe a mammogram. An even greater number, 53 percent, could not identify a Pap smear as a way of detecting cervical cancer. Significantly fewer Native Americans (52 percent) and African Americans (54 percent) were able to mention or describe these procedures when compared to white women (70 percent).

Paskett says studies have shown that clinical breast exams cou

Contact: Michelle Gailiun
Ohio State University

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