COLUMBUS (WCMH) — When it comes to breast cancer prevention, a new study suggests race matters.
Researchers from Ohio State University interviewed 50 women, all deemed to be at high-risk for breast cancer, and found that black women are less likely than white women to pursue potentially life-saving preventive care, and say racial disparities are to blame.
“What we’re seeing right now, is that the women who have the information and are able to take action, are the ones who see a specialist,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Tasleem Padamsee. “And while that is two-thirds of white women, it seems to be very few black women. Like, less than 20 percent.”
Dr. Padamsee said those women often have different experiences.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with women’s interest in the issue, or women’s ability to even say that they want to do something about it,” Dr. Padamsee said. “But they’re just having a lot more obstacles in their way.”
One of those obstacles could have something to do with what happens when white women see their health care providers, versus what happens when black women see their health care providers.
Dr. Padamsee said there is evidence proving that some general practioners often think black women can’t be at high risk for breast cancer, won’t understand or be interested in the risk information, or won’t do anything about prevention options.
“Any of those kinds of assumptions could really be getting in the way.”
And while those obstacles aren’t impassable, Dr. Padamsee said solutions for them are slow-moving.
“Whatever we’re going to do to intervene to help women really be empowered to make good decisions to protect themselves, we’re going to need to do more of that, for African-American women, whatever it is, because they’re the ones that are at a disadvantage here.”
Dr. Padamsee said the disparities are also rooted in social factors including poverty or prejudice, as well as resources like money, time and health insurance.
According to the study, an immediate solution is getting primary care providers on-board, educating them about risk, and making sure they relay that information to their patients.