CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — A large-scale mammogram study has revealed a wide range of outcomes detecting breast cancer among racial and ethnic groups.
The study, which includes data from 98 facilities, was led by UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
UNC Lineberger’s Dr. Sarah Nyante is lead author on the study.
She says prior research shows breast cancer characteristics differ across racial and ethnic groups but the team wanted to dig deeper.
“Nothing has fully explained the differences, and so we thought that diagnostic mammography may play a role since it’s part of the diagnostic process,” said Nyante.
Their findings show cancer detection rates were highest among Asian Pacific Islander women and lowest among Hispanic women.
Recommendations for short interval follow up were highest among non-Hispanic black women.
“What’s it really saying is that diagnostic mammography will have different risk and benefits for different groups when we look at race and ethnicity,” Nyante said. “We thought that this was important because of the pre-existing literature showing that tumor characteristics and actually death rates differ by race.”
Researchers determined individual characteristics did not explain the variations.
Nyante says the disparity in the exams’ accuracy could be because of two factors: the imaging facility itself and whether a woman had an breast ultrasound or MRI along with the diagnostic mammogram.
“If I were to do another study, I would want to target to find out what are the differences between facilities women go to,” Nyante said. “Are they accredited or not accredited, how many radiologists are reading there, are they reading on-site or remotely, scheduling may also play a role.”
While there were differences identified between race and ethnic groups, none of the screenings fell below minimal acceptable standards.