Young, Poorer Breast Cancer Patients More Likely to Have Delays in Care

Young women with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience long delays between the time they detect a breast abnormality and the time they get a diagnosis, a recent study shows. Initially launched to help researchers better understand why breast cancers are more deadly in young women, the study was led by Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, and Kathryn Ruddy, MD, MPH, formerly of Dana-Farber and now at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The study involved 585 women under age 40 who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Among women who detected their own breast abnormalities, 17 percent waited at least 90 days before visiting their health care provider for an evaluation, and provider for an evaluation, and 12 percent saw a delay of at least 90 days between their doctor visit and their breast cancer diagnosis. Although only a minority of young women experience long delays between the time they detect a breast abnormality and the time they receive a diagnosis, women with fewer financial resources were more likely to have a delay.

“These results show us that economic disparity may be an important factor to consider as we look at future interventions designed to help reduce delays in seeking medical care for breast abnormalities – particularly those that may be later diagnosed as breast cancer,” says Dr. Partridge. “The data may also highlight the need for further research on ways to improve the timeliness of diagnosis for this population of women, perhaps by finding ways to lower copays and reduce the ‘hidden’ costs of seeking medical care – such as parking charges, child-care expenses, and lost wages.”

The findings are published in the American Cancer Society’s journal, Cancer.

Courtesy of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

 

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