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Immigrants less likely to get mammograms

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | September 20, 2011
Immigrants are less likely than native-born American women to get mammograms, although the differences between the two groups have narrowed recently, according to a new study.

For the most recent year available, 2008, about 65.5 percent of foreign-born women got mammograms, up from 60.2 percent in 2000, according to the study, presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research's fourth annual conference on cancer health disparities, held in Washington, D.C.

And that figure's not too different from the American average.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 68 percent of women aged 40 and up have had a mammogram within the last two years. Non-Hispanic white and black women have the highest rates, at around 68 percent. Hispanic women have the lowest, at 61.2 percent, according to the CDC.

"Mammography rates have improved over time among immigrant women and some disparities are decreasing, however, lack of health care access remains an important barrier to breast cancer screening for this population," wrote the authors, led by Nengliang Yao, a doctoral student with Penn State University.

Insurance status also affected whether a woman would get screened. Women with public insurance had nearly twice the odds of getting a mammogram, and women with private insurance had 2.5 times the odds.

In a statement, Yao credited "culturally and linguistically appropriate" government-sponsored national breast and cervical cancer screening programs with helping to improve screening rates for immigrant women.

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