The study authors concluded that mammography screening campaigns may want to include information about insurance and health plan benefits to help reduce what appears to be a major barrier to the exams for some women.

Studies show that regular mammography screenings can help detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most curable. Although the American Cancer Society recommends all women age 40 and over get screened annually, mammography remains underutilised, especially among poor and minority women.

Studies show that nationwide, roughly 25 percent of the women who should be getting mammography have not had an exam in the past two years, and nearly 40 percent of poor women have never had a mammogram.

Ann McAlearney, an assistant professor in the Division of Health Services Management & Policy in The Ohio State University School of Public Health, examined data from a study of mammography screening rates among rural, poor and minority women in Robeson County, N. C. (the ROSE Project).

The data included information from interviews with 897 women age 40 or older. Over half of the respondents (53 percent) said they felt cost was a barrier to getting screened. Among this group, 40 percent did not fully understand or were not aware of benefits in their insurance plans that could help defray the cost of the procedure. The researchers found that women age 65 and over and those with the lowest incomes were more likely than others to misperceive their benefits.

"We know that even though African-American women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, they die of it more frequently,” says Paskett, who is associate director for population sciences at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Anything we can do to help increase early detection would be helpful.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University