Black Women, Women Living in Poverty Less Likely to Recognize Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening, So They Don’t Take Advantage of Patient Navigation for Optimal Care

At, we believe that a woman’s best chance for early detection of breast cancer requires coordination of current screening tools:

  • high-quality mammography
  • clinical breast exam
  • breast self-exam

To not use all three tools misses opportunities for early detection.

A study has found that black women and women living in poverty are less likely to report facing barriers to having a screening mammogram. Because no barriers were reported, the women didn’t receive any extra support or help to get a mammogram, even if they needed that extra help.

The research was published online on Sept. 24, 2018, by the journal Cancer. Read the abstract of “Gendered and Racialized Social Expectations, Barriers, and Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis.”

Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer that is at a later stage compared to white women. To find out why, researchers are looking at a number of factors, including the biology of the cancer, access to screening and treatment, and women’s values and their perception of the healthcare system.

In this study, called the Patient Navigation in Medically Underserved Areas study, women were randomly assigned to one of two groups:

  • one group received support from a nurse navigator when trying to schedule a screening mammogram
  • one group did not receive help from a nurse navigator

Of the 3,754 women who received support from a nurse navigator, 14% said they faced one or more barriers to getting a screening mammogram. When a woman reported a barrier, she received more support from the nurse navigator.

As a result of this additional support, women who reported barriers ultimately were more likely to have a screening mammogram compared to women who reported no barriers.

The researchers found that …

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