Breast Cancer

Breast cancer continues to be diagnosed at later stages of the illness in African American women compared to white women. A new study suggests that poorer communication of mammogram results may not allow black women to benefit fully from mammography screening and may underlie their later diagnosis of breast cancer (Jones et al. 2007).

The investigators reported that communication of mammogram results was problematic for 14.5 percent of the women in the study (12.5 percent had not received their screening result, and 2 percent had received their result, but their self-report differed from the radiology record).

Inadequate communication of mammogram results was nearly twice as common among black women as white women (21 vs. 11 percent), even after adjustment for other sociodemographic, clinical, and care access factors. Also, abnormal results were more likely to be inadequately communicated to black women (31 percent of abnormal results vs. 19 percent of normal results), but not to white women.

Among women in the study who had abnormal results, 44 percent of those in the inadequate communication group (many of whom believed their mammogram was normal) compared with 29 percent of those in the adequate communication group did not receive adequate follow-up.