CANCER: Screening Program’s Resources Are Strained
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week said "the number of poor, uninsured women diagnosed and being treated for breast or cervical cancer has put a strain on the government's early-detection breast cancer program," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. CDC spokesperson Rosemarie Henson said that based on a study of seven states, "only 12% to 15% of the nation's 5 million uninsured women, for whom the program was intended, were being screened." This finding means that "much of the $145 million allocated to the program from Congress went toward diagnosis and treatment," Henson said. "To solve the program," the Chronicle reports that the CDC is suggesting "putting an emphasis on public agencies helping women get the money needed to pay for treatment." According to the CDC, an "estimated 180,200 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 43,900 will die." The CDC study looked at screening efforts in California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina and Texas (3/27). The CDC findings were published in its March 27 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Click here to view a pdf version of the issue.
A researcher with the U.S. Army's Center for Healthcare Education and Studies has found that "black women are more likely to die of" breast cancer than white women. Based on a review of "the cases of 6,577 white and African American women who were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer between 1975 and 1994 at military hospitals" nationwide, senior statistician Barbara Wojcik found that African-American women treated at military clinics "had a lower mortality rate, 24.8% after five years, than did black women in the nation at large, 34.2%." According to Wojcik, "[t]hose statistics ... suggest that the ready access medical care at military facilities indeed improved African Americans' chances of surviving" the disease. Wojcik's analysis found that the "mortality rate for white women with breast cancer was nearly the same -- 18% -- whether they were treated at military facilities or elsewhere." Comparing the findings of black and white women "receiving military health care," the Los Angeles Times notes that "African Americans had a higher death rate by nearly 7%." Wojcik said the "difference cannot be explained by access to health care." She told attendees at the American Cancer Society's annual science writers seminar that "[r]esearchers still need to look at such factors as the biology of the tumors, socioeconomic status, cultural factors and diet to further explore the difference" (Dodson, 3/26).