Article Details

« Back

Cancers Diagnosed Late Despite Effective Detection Methods

African Americans and Hispanics affected most

A recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on a CDC study highlighting disparities in cancer screening rates and late-stage diagnoses among minority and elderly individuals.

The report, based on 2004 and 2006 data, found that more cancers in black men and women were diagnosed as late-stage relative to other racial and ethnic populations, and Hispanic women have the highest incidence of late-stage cervical cancer diagnosis, the most preventable gynecological cancer. The study also found differences in late-stage cancer diagnosis by age, with late-stage breast and cervical cancer screening rates being highest among women ages 70 to 79 and ages 50 to 79 years respectively. Late-stage cancers are more difficult to treat and have a higher death rate than cancers detected in earlier stages. "If the patient doesn't have insurance, they likely won't get screenings because it's a choice between an expensive test and putting food on the table," said Dr. Julie Schuller, a physician and vice president of clinical affairs at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center. Dr. James P. Tomas, professor of hematology and oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin states that health care access and a lack of cancer screening recommendations to patients contribute to the late-stage diagnoses. Alonzo Walker, director of Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Breast Care Center, thinks education is the key to reducing the incidence of late-state cancer diagnoses. He recommends that hospitals partner with community health centers to provide patients with information about screening guidelines, as well as access to resources including follow-up care.

Health care reform legislation aims to alleviate health disparities by requiring private health insurers and Medicare to provide free recommended screening tests (Herzog 11/24).

Search top vendors, suppliers, services providers & more