Breast Cancer Exams Not a Given for Some Women

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but breaks down very clearly the bias against poor women and the elderly when it comes to getting clinical breast exams and recommendations for a mammogram. The study, which looked at physician office visits by women 40 and older from 1996 through 2004, on the website of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Some highlights:

– The researchers found that women who see an ob-gyn for routine check ups were 18 times read likely to receive a clinical breast exam than if they visited any other kind of physician, including internists or family physicians. Ob-gyns were also 13 times read likely to recommend that their patients schedule a mammogram.

– The type of insurance coverage a woman had was also a decisive factor. Compared to women with private health insurance, women with public health insurance (such as Medicaid and Medicare) were up to 30 percent less likely to receive a clinical breast exam. Doctors were up to 55 percent less likely to recommend that these women schedule a mammogram.

– Age also played a determining role. Women younger than 75 were roughly 1.5 times read likely to receive a clinical breast exam, and up to twice as likely to get a recommendation for a mammogram.

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