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Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Female Breast Cancer: Screening Rates and Stage at Diagnosis

The Issue

Franco Sassi, a 2000–01 Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, and his coauthors set out to explore whether increases in mammography screening rates are associated with improvements in the cancer stage at diagnosis (i.e., earlier diagnosis), and whether this association varied by women's race/ethnicity. 

What the Study Found

The study found that mammography screening rates increased during the 1990s across all racial/ethnic groups—and that increased screening led to more women having their breast cancers diagnosed at an early stage. Still, African American women who developed breast cancer were less likely than white women to have the condition diagnosed at an early stage: screening rates were significantly associated with early diagnosis across all groups, but this association was weaker among African American women than white women.


While campaigns to encourage mammography screening in the 1990s appear to have been effective, policymakers and public health professionals should carefully target further efforts to ensure that screening leads to earlier diagnoses and treatment across all population groups.

Publication Details

Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Author: Franco Sassi, Ph.D., Harold S. Luft, Ph.D., and Edward Guadagnoli, Ph.D.
Summary Writer: Martha Hostetter
Citation: F. Sassi, H. S. Luft, and E. Guadagnoli, "Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Female Breast Cancer: Screening Rates and Stage at Diagnosis," American Journal of Public Health, Dec. 2006 96(12):2165–72.