A study done in Hispanic neighborhoods by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that nearly half the women with breast cancer were diagnosed before they turned 50. This is about 10 years earlier than the national average for all women. This study raises new questions about the recent push to delay routine screening.
“This study shows the need to consider all populations when developing prevention and screening strategies,” said Melissa Bondy, an M.D. Anderson epidemiologist and senior corresponding author of the study. “The problem is there simply haven’t been enough studies of minority populations to develop strong risk assessment models necessary for optimal screening strategies.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s new screening guidelines issued last year could cause a large number of breast cancer cases would not be caught at early stages. The guidelines changed the age suggested for women to get mammograms from 40 to 50 unless they have known risk factors.
Researchers have long looked at racial disparities in health care, but most of the breast cancer attention has been focused on black women who are doing just as badly as two decades ago despite advancements that have helped whites during that time. Relatively little attention has been paid to Hispanics.
M.D. Anderson has tried to remedy this by having researchers conduct face-to-face interviews with about 22,000 Mexican-Americans since 2001.
The average age of diagnosis was 50.5, and researchers also found that 48.7 percent were diagnosed before 50; 34.8 percent at 45 or younger; and 21.7 percent at 40 or younger.
The average age for all U.S. women is 61 according to the National Cancer Institute.