Breast cancer incidence and mammography screening among resettlers in Germany

BMC Public Health. 2020 Mar 30;20(1):417. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-08534-7.


Background: European studies showed that women with a migration background are less likely to participate in mammography screenings than autochthonous women. However, the participation in the German mammography screening programme (MSP) among ethnic German migrants from countries of the former Soviet Union (called resettlers) is unclear so far. The aim of this study was to identify possible differences regarding MSP participation between resettlers from the FSU and the general German population.

Methods: Data from two independent, complementary studies from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (a retrospective cohort study 1994-2013; a cross-sectional study 2013/14) were used for comparisons between resettlers and the general population: Odds Ratios (ORs) for MSP participation utilizing the cross-sectional data and time trends of breast cancer incidence rates as well as Chi-Square tests for breast cancer stages utilizing the cohort data.

Results: Resettlers showed higher Odds to participate in the MSP than the general population (OR 2.42, 95% CI 1.08-5.42). Among resettlers, a large increase in incidence rates was observed during the MSP implementation (2005-2009), resulting in stable and comparable incidence rates after the implementation. Furthermore, pre-MSP implementation, the proportion of advanced breast cancer stages was higher among resettlers than in the German population, post-MSP implementation the proportion was comparable.

Conclusions: MSP participating seems surprisingly high among resettlers. An explanation for the increased willingness to participate might be the structured invitation procedure of the MSP. However, the exact reasons remain unclear and future research is needed to confirm this hypothesis and rule out the possibility of selection bias in the cross-sectional study.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Mammography screening programme; Migrants; Participation; Resettlers; Stage at diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • USSR / ethnology