Unsolved problems in early breast cancer detection: focus on the underserved

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1996;40(1):37-51. doi: 10.1007/BF01806001.


In the last decade, numerous research and programmatic efforts have attempted to improve cancer screening practices among women from diverse race/ethnic backgrounds on the assumption that observed differences in breast cancer survival were largely due to differences in early detection practices. Recent data from the 1992 National Health Interview Survey and a 1992 survey in San Francisco Bay Area multiethnic communities indicate that rates of self-reported breast cancer screening tests among African American, Hispanic, and white women no longer differ significantly. However, there are large, persistent socioeconomic differences as reflected in educational and income levels, the recency of immigration, and English language proficiency. This emphasizes the continuing need for interventions tailored specifically for the underserved, with the racial, ethnic, and cultural composition of the intended audience informing educational messages and strategies. However, effective research interventions are complex and costly throughout the spectrum of outreach, inreach, and follow-up. Thus the generalizability of these strategies to under-founded providers and agencies in low-income communities may be limited. Therefore, as ongoing research continues to refine strategies, the application of effective community-based intervention should seek out potential partnerships with programs that provide the critical access to services. Cancer control scientists are well positioned to advocate for community-based infrastructures that facilitate translation of research into practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Community Health Services
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Middle Aged
  • Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors