African-American women at high risk of breast cancer are less likely than white women to pursue potentially life-saving preventive care, and racial disparities in health care and elsewhere are to blame, new research suggests.
“African-American women faced additional burdens at every step along the risk-management journey,” researchers from The Ohio State University wrote in a newly published study in the journal Ethnicity & Health.
The study included in-depth interviews with 50 women – 30 white, 20 black – deemed at high risk of breast cancer based on family history and other factors.
They found that high-risk black women were less likely than white women to have genetic testing, take medications to protect them against cancer and to have or consider having their breasts or ovaries removed as a preventive measure, disparities that have been seen in previous studies. For example, 67 percent of white study participants said they or a relevant family member had undergone genetic testing, while just 20 percent of black women reported a history of genetic testing.
This study broke new ground as the first to help explain the reasons behind the racial differences. It showed that black women were less aware of their options and at a disadvantage when it came to getting access to information about prevention. Only three of the black women in the study, or 15 percent, had seen a specialist for their breast health. Meanwhile, 70 percent of the white women had consulted with a provider with special training.Tags: Friday Letter Submission