What Minorities Need to Know About Current Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
By Dr. Gulshan S. Harjee, MD
Every April, the American Cancer Society, and other organizations work together to raise awareness around cancer amongst minorities. National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is celebrated this week (April 15.) The Georgia Breast Cancer Coalition supports these efforts and would like to help our minority communities know a little more about breast cancer screening guidelines. A recent research report published in the journal, JAMA Surgery, showcases the current problems with breast cancer screening guidelines for minorities.
Current Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines are Based on Scientific Data from White Women
Researchers like David Chang from the Massachusetts General Hospital’s department of surgery believe that the scientific research process has been neglected in developing breast cancer screening guidelines. Much of the data collected has been from white women, and this bias could lead to delayed detection in minorities.
Minorities are at Higher Risk of Developing Breast Cancer at Earlier Age
The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends breast cancer screening for women at age 50 with average risk. Researchers worked with the U.S. National Cancer Institute to analyze data from women aged 40 to 75 who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1973 and 2010.
The data showed that the average age at diagnosis for white women was 59, 56 for black women, 55 for Hispanic women, and 46 for Asian women. They also looked at the % of patients diagnosed before 50 and found 31% were black, 35% were Hispanic, 33% were Asian, and 24% were white. Researchers believe that the data shows that minorities need to start breast cancer screening sooner than 50.
Conclusion and What to Do
These new findings and analysis on breast cancer screening are enlightening for minorities to make better decisions at the right time. Minorities are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer earlier, and as a result, should start testing much earlier than age 50 which is recommended.
Visit the resources below for more information on breast cancer screening.