Attitudes Toward Mammography Differ Across Ethnicities, Cultures, Backgrounds

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 General News
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CHICAGO, Nov. 26 Black and Hispanic women have a differentunderstanding of screening mammography compared with that of Caucasian women,according to the findings of a Boston University Medical Center surveypresented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of NorthAmerica (RSNA).

"Limited understanding of mammography still exists across different ethnicand socioeconomic groups," said Nazia F. Jafri, M.D., medical intern atMount Auburn Hospital in Boston. "Increased community outreach and educationtargeted at minority and underserved women may lead to better breast cancerprognoses in these groups."

Breast cancer incidence rates tend to be lower among minority women thanamong Caucasian women, but mortality rates are higher. According to the UnitedStates Department of Health and Human Services, African-American women betweenthe ages of 35 and 44 have a breast cancer death rate more than double therate for Caucasian women in the same age group. Hispanic women in the U.S. are20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer thanCaucasian women.

While a number of factors may contribute to these alarming statistics, theresearchers sought to determine if ethnic or socioeconomic background held anysway over women's beliefs or opinions regarding breast cancer screening forearly detection.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 1,011 women of variouseducational, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who underwent screeningmammography at Boston University Medical Center. The survey asked womenquestions about their understanding of mammography and their preferencesregarding call-back after a suspicious finding on a screening mammogram.

The results showed that differences in ethnic background appear toinfluence women's preferences regarding the trade-off between recall andearlier detection of cancer. Caucasian women strongly preferred recall giventhe possibility of earlier detection of cancer, compared with black(African-American, Caribbean and Haitian) and Hispanic women.

Nearly one-third of black and Hispanic women thought mammography woulddetect more cancers than it actually does.

When asked if they would continue routine screening mammography after afalse-positive result, 76 percent of Caucasian women said they would, comparedto only 56 percent of black women and 48 percent of Hispanic women.

"Women's healthcare decisions and adherence to routine health screeningsare affected by cultural factors, educational background and access to medicalcare," said the study's principal investigator, Priscilla J. Slanetz, M.D.,M.P.H., associate professor of radiology at Boston University Medical Center."Our study shows that we need to improve breast health education amongminority and underserved women."

Dr. Jafri suggested that further research is necessary to address theunderlying factors that influence a woman's decision to comply with screeningmammography and to seek appropriate follow-up care.

"Mammography does save lives, but only when cancer is detected early," Dr.Slanetz said. "Most recalls are for benign causes and should not deter furtherscreening."

Co-authors are J. Jordan, M.B.A., R. Ayyala, B.S., and A. Ozonoff, Ph.D.

Note: Copies of RSNA 2007 news releases and electronic images will beavailable online at beginning Monday, Nov. 26.

RSNA is an association of more than 41,000 radiologists, radiationoncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellencein patient care through education and research. The Society is based in OakBrook, Ill. (

Editor's note: The data in these releases may differ from those in theprinted abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researcherscontinue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are

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