NYMC Faculty Publications

Disparate Access to Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment

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BMC Women's Health

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BACKGROUND: Barriers to breast cancer screening remain despite Medicaid expansion for preventive screening tests and implementation of patient navigation programs under the Affordable Care Act. Women from underserved communities experience disproportionately low rates of screening mammography. This study compares barriers to breast cancer screening among women at an inner-city safety-net center (City) and those at a suburban county medical center (County). Inner city and suburban county medical centers' initiatives were studied to compare outcomes of breast cancer screening and factors that influence access to care. METHODS: Women 40 years of age or older delinquent in breast cancer screening were offered patient navigation services between October 2014 and September 2019. Four different screening time-to-event intervals were investigated: time from patient navigation acceptance to screening mammography, to diagnostic mammography, to biopsy, and overall screening completion time. Barriers to complete breast cancer screening between the two centers were compared. RESULTS: Women from lowest income quartiles took significantly longer to complete breast cancer screening when compared to women from higher income quartiles when a barrier was present, regardless of barrier type and center. Transportation was a major barrier to screening mammography completion, while fear was the major barrier to abnormal screening work up. CONCLUSION: Disparity in breast cancer screening and management persists despite implementation of a patient navigation program. In the presence of a barrier, women from the lowest income quartiles have prolonged breast cancer screening completion time regardless of center or barrier type. Women who experience fear have longest screening time completion. Future directions aim to increase resource allocation to ameliorate wait times in overburdened safety-net hospitals as well as advanced training for patient navigators to alleviate women's fears.