Here are some of the highlights of the study:
African American women were 40 percent more likely to have a diagnostic delay beyond two months, and were 64 percent more likely to have a treatment delay beyond one month compared to white, Hispanic or women of any other race. It’s not clear from the study whether the delay is due to patient delay or doctor delay.
There is an implication that a one- or two-month wait for treatment leads to worse outcomes-- tumors may be larger or have spread to lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.
Recommendations that resulted from the study include making health care plans and medical centers more accountable for the time between screening and diagnosis, and diagnosis and treatment, having more trained radiologists and other skilled professionals in poor communities, and having doctors develop better systems for tracking follow-up to the mammograms.
Is it racism? Dr. Gorin says the delays are not “overt discrimination against black women,” as there are other factors leading to the delays such as black women who sometimes delay treatment because they distrust medical professionals, or are fatalistic about breast cancer so may not seek further treatment. Still, it seems clear from the study that more needs to be done to help African-American women with breast cancer overcome bad outcomes.