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Reducing racial/ethnic disparities in female breast cancer

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Rising breast cancer screening rates across racial/ethnic groups in America appears to have contributed significantly to earlier diagnosis within each group, but a smaller effect in African American women should raise concerns finds a new study by researchers at LSE, Harvard Medical School and the University of California.

Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Female Breast Cancer: screening rates and stage at diagnosis by Franco Sassi, LSE, Harold Luft, University of California, San Francisco, and Edward Guadagnoli, Harvard Medical School, is published in December's issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers assessed whether population rates of mammography screening, and their changes over time, were associated with improvements in breast cancer stage at diagnosis and whether the strength of this association varied by race/ethnicity.

By analyzing state cancer registry data linked to socioeconomic characteristics of patients' areas of residence for 1990-1998, the researchers found that although trends in screening and stage at diagnosis were consistent within groups, African American women had a significantly lower proportion of early stage cancers despite an advantage in screening. Population screening rates were significantly associated with early diagnosis, with a weaker association in African American women than white women

Lead study author Dr Franco Sassi said: 'African-American women do appear to receive less, or less adequate, follow-up of screening test results. This may be partly related to a lack of health insurance, but that is unlikely to be the main reason, because uninsured women are less likely to be screened in the first place.'

'Our findings show that a key health policy challenge is to ensure that screening effectively translates into earlier diagnosis. Policy makers may need to focus not only on improving breast cancer screening, but also on ensuring that mammography leads to earlier diagnosis.'

A full copy of this report is available to download from the American Journal of Public Health -http://www.ajph.org/|  (subscription only)


To contact Dr Franco Sassi, call 020 7955 7566 or email f.sassi@lse.ac.uk|

Press cuttings

Kaiser Network
Daily Women's Health Policy (11 Dec 06)
Franco Sassi, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and colleagues examined cancer registry data from five US states from 1990 through 1998, as well as federal data on mammography during the same time period. Researchers found that although screening rates improved among black women during the period studied, black women were still less likely than white or Hispanic women to be diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.

Kaiser network, USA
Black women less likely to receive early breast cancer diagnosis (7 Dec 06)
Black women are less likely than white or Hispanic women to have their breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health. The lead researcher was Franco Sassi, LSE. 

7 December 2006