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Black Women With Breast Cancer Continue to Face Barriers in Mammogram Screenings


Black women with breast cancer are disproportionately affected by the lack of mammograms due to barriers, according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers from the College of Nursing, the study leaders examined the information of Black women under the care of the Northwest Community Health Alliance Community Health Center, a hospital dedicated to caring for underserved populations in West Palm Beach. 

Looking at the frequency of mammogram screenings of each patient and the overall screenings in the CHC’s records of all patients, the researchers found that there was a lack of mammograms offered to Black women. 

While half of the patients had annual mammograms, the rest reported that they had mammograms sporadically every two to three years, while some reported that they never had one despite being over the recommended age for getting one.

While 80% of Black women believed that mammograms can increase the survival rates of breast cancer and 90% of the participants agreed that they help with early detection, the review of the medical records indicated a lack of mammogram history amongst the women. 

Researchers found that out of 392 women from the ages of 40 to 74, only 31% had a mammogram in the past two years. 

“Our findings suggest that Black women actually see the benefits of having an annual mammogram; however, some perceived and actual barriers may be preventing these women from obtaining screening mammograms at the appropriate age,” said lead author Tarsha Jones. Ph.D. per an official release. “Our team is now working to evaluate the outcomes and effectiveness of patient navigation in reducing the barriers uncovered in this study; our ultimate goal is to save lives and to reduce cancer health disparities.”

Previous research has found that, although white women have higher rates, Black women are more likely to pass away from breast cancer. 

According to the latest information found by the American Cancer Society, although they have a lower incidence rate of four percent, the rate of Black women who have passed away from breast cancer is higher at a rate of 40%. Black women that were diagnosed with cancer at younger ages have a high mortality rate as well, recording death rates that are twice those of white women their age. Overall, the specific type of cancer is considered to be the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst Black women. 

Although there are multiple factors that contribute to these higher rates, disparities that are identified as affecting health outcomes for Black women with breast cancer include socioeconomic conditions, lack of healthcare and a genetic predisposition for more aggressive types.

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