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Socioeconomic Factors and Access to Quality Care Affect Breast Cancer Survival

Socioeconomic Factors and Access to Quality Care Affect Breast Cancer Survival

Race does not appear to be a major factor in breast cancer survival when information on stage of disease, income level, education, and access to care also are reviewed, a number of studies show.

African-American women are at least one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage disease, says Dr. Lori Pierce, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. "In addition, race is frequently synonymous with poverty, and poverty is synonymous with lower education level. This lower education, lower income group has the least access to care," she says.

It's a vicious circle, says Dr. Pierce. "The best way to break through the circle is to make mammography screening, quality treatment, and treatment follow-up more available to African-American women," she says.

Quality treatment also is essential, she says. "I've had African-American women tell me they avoid screening for breast cancer because they are afraid they'll have cancer, and cancer means they'll have to have their breast removed," she says.

 
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