Delays in treatment may have many reasons, she said. Minority women and those who don't have as much access to health care may simply have trouble getting to the doctor in a timely manner.
For their part, higher-income women may be juggling career and family obligations and think the delay will not affect them, Anton-Culver said. She tells them: "The cancer is not going to be put on hold until you organize yourself."
"What we are saying in this paper is that you can't say, 'OK, I have breast cancer but I have to do a, b and c first, then I will pay attention to that.'"
In the second study, researchers from the University of Toledo Medial Center, in Ohio, evaluated more than 1,500 women diagnosed with stage 1 through stage 3 invasive breast cancer. All had surgery between 1996 and 2009. Of those, 42 percent had a mastectomy and 58 percent had breast-conserving surgery such as a lumpectomy.
Overall, those on Medicaid were more likely to get a mastectomy -- 60 percent compared with 39 percent.
Early detection efforts, including increasing the rate of screening mammograms among those on Medicaid, could help more women get breast-conserving surgery, the researchers said.
An expert who was not involved with the study agreed.
"Increasing screening programs for underinsured patients might help reduce this disparity in care," said Dr. Laura Kruper, director of the Cooper-Finkel Women's Health Center and co-director of the breast oncology program at the City of Hope Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif.
The study has limitations, she said. "We don't know what the delay is between feeling something [such as a lump] and getting a diagnosis.'' Part of the delay may be postponing a doctor visit because the women is in denia
All rights reserved