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Breast Abnormality Follow-Up Often Later in Black Women

Reasons for delay are unclear, researchers say

MONDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Black women experience a significant delay in follow-up after discovery of a breast abnormality, a U.S. study has found.

Delayed follow-up of breast abnormalities can mean breast cancer is detected at a later stage, which may reduce the chances of survival, the researchers noted.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia analyzed data from the Best Chance Network, a statewide program that provides free mammography to poor and medically underserved women.

Black women were as likely as white women to complete diagnostic procedures after they'd had an abnormal mammogram result. However, black women had a median gap of 44 days between their first clinical exam and completion of a diagnostic follow-up, compared with 40 days for white women.

When the researchers looked at the number of days between the mammogram and the date of a woman's final status, the significant effect of race was no longer evident. Because clinical breast examination typically precedes the diagnostic mammogram, these findings suggest that racial disparities may occur early in the process, the researchers said.

The study is scheduled to be published in the Dec. 15 issue of Cancer.

The study authors suggested the reasons for the delay may be due to factors such as poor communication between patient and doctor, lack of patient trust in her doctor, lack of patient transportation, and proximity of clinics to patients.

"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 breast cancer," study author Swann Arp Adams, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "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

The American Cancer Society has more about early breast cancer detection.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Oct. 26, 2009

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