MARLBOROUGH, Mass. February 19, 2021 – A comprehensive study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR) found racial disparities in the utilization of mammography screening overall, and specifically for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT).
The study, "Outcomes by Race in Breast Cancer Screening with Digital Breast Tomosynthesis versus Digital Mammography," reported breast cancer screening access, utilization and outcomes by race for 385,504 Asian, Black and Caucasian women who underwent a total of 804,304 screening exams at 63 breast imaging facilities in the United States from January 2015 through January 2019. The study was commissioned by Hologic, Inc. (Nasdaq: HOLX), the world leader in breast cancer screening technology and manufacturer of 3D Mammography™ systems.
The findings are particularly concerning since research has shown that, despite having a similar breast cancer incidence rate, Black women are almost 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women.[i]
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"Despite the fact that DBT is considered to be the "better mammogram" for breast cancer screening and is becoming the standard of care in the U.S., our study revealed significant racial disparities in who receives this superior technology," said Emily Conant, MD, study author and division chief, breast imaging, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "The data suggests that this disparity in access, coupled with the known increase in breast cancer mortality among Black women, is an urgent issue that should be addressed. Improving access to DBT may help improve the effectiveness of breast cancer screening for Black women."
Improving breast cancer outcomes for Black women
The JACR review found that screening via DBT improved both recall rates and cancer detection for women of all races. However, it also revealed that Black women were less likely to receive a DBT mammogram and less likely to be screened multiple times during the five-year period than Caucasian women.
The study authors concluded that racial differences in screening frequency and DBT utilization are likely rooted in social, economic, cultural and educational disparities, and that less frequent screening of Black women indicates a need for improved access and educational strategies to emphasize the importance of regular screening.[ii] Additionally, government and local policies and guidelines must be improved to decrease barriers to screening, particularly with DBT.