Background: To determine whether patient race was associated with timeliness of follow-up after abnormal screening mammography, a retrospective record review of diagnostic tests for women with abnormal screening mammography from a Northern California mobile van program was conducted.
Methods: The study included 317 women between the ages of 33 and 85 who were reported to have abnormal screening mammography between July 1993 and May 1994. Measurements included patient demographics, screening mammography interpretation, follow-up diagnostic tests, and dates of diagnostic evaluation.
Results: Women with abnormal screening mammography underwent a wide variety of diagnostic evaluations. Nonwhite women had significantly longer time (median time, 19 days) from date of index abnormal screening mammography to final disposition compared with white women (median time, 12 days). This racial difference was primarily due to the longer interval between index abnormal screening mammography and first diagnostic test (median time, 15 days for nonwhite women versus 7 days for white women, P < 0.001). The difference persisted when adjusting for patient age, family history of breast cancer, report of palpable mass, and income. The racial difference was similarly significant for each nonwhite subgroup (African American, Latina, and Asian) when compared with white women (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Reasons for less timely follow-up of abnormal mammography among nonwhite women need to be identified. Delays that may be instigated by the patient or be due to her physician or system of care need to be explored further.