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J S C Med Assoc. 2006 Aug;102(7):231-9.

Breast cancer disparities in South Carolina: early detection, special programs, and descriptive epidemiology.

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  • 1Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, The University of South Carolina, 2221 Devine Street, Columbia, SC, 29208, USA. swann.adams@sc.edu

Abstract

A discrepancy exists between mortality and incidence rates between African-American and European-American women in South Carolina. The relationship between tumor grade and the estrogen/ progesterone receptor status is different in African-American and European-American women. African-American women with breast cancer should be encouraged to participate in clinical trials, with the goal of identifying biological factors that might facilitate the detection of tumors at an earlier stage and the development of more effective therapies. The most important of our goals is to design studies to reduce the incidence of the disease and interventions to improve survival and quality of life. The importance of participation in research cannot be overstated. Reproductive factors such as early pregnancy and multiple pregnancies are strongly related to breast cancer risk, however, promotion of these factors as a "prevention strategy," clearly does not lead to cogent, comprehensive public health messages. Data from ecological and migrant studies point clearly to other factors that may be important such as diet. Additional research around primary prevention strategies is needed. In addition, yearly mammograms (secondary prevention) are recommended for women over 50 years old or those with relatives who have developed breast cancer. The Best Chance Network, as a provider of screenings to low-income, uninsured women, has helped to narrow the racial gap in screening that otherwise might exist (see Figures 3 and 4) to a large extent. The determination for timing of surgery after diagnosis needs additional consideration. For example, factors such as effective screening in younger women, timing of screening and surgery in relationship to the ovulatory cycle, and season of screening and surgery may have a great impact on outcomes and may offer some insight into the process of carcinogenesis and therapeutic efficacy. Research into this area is so novel that the impact on possible ethnic disparities is completely unknown. The South Carolina Cancer Disparities Community Network (SCCDCN) has identified the following areas as potential research foci: Identification of small media interventions as an effective strategy to motivate targeted populations, especially those least likely to seek screening for breast cancer and those least likely to participate in research programs (African-Americans). Utilization of breast cancer survivors, self-identified as community natural helpers, can share their experiences with their church congregation. A replication of such a program in South Carolina has great potential because of the strong presence of the church, especially in rural parts of the state. Programs that closely integrate religion with screening women for breast cancer are promising in this state. Development of a mammography registry whereby information on all mammography procedures would be collected within a single database system (much like a central cancer registry). This would aid in identifying population groups that could be targeted for special programs and in the examination and exploration of the most appropriate modalities of detection. Such a resource could also be a useful tool to encourage screening. Thus, this focus area has the potential to benefit epidemiologic and health promotion research on many different levels. Additional breast cancer screening methods should not be overlooked as a potential research focus. Mammography is not the only valid screening method for breast cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging has shown some promise for screening among women with a genetic predisposition for cancer. Another promising avenue is thermography. Because detection rates may depend on age, ethnicity, and breast mammographic characteristics, women for whom regular screening methods do not detect their cancers (e.g. older age, African-American ethnicity, dense breasts) must be identified and other screening methods promoted within these populations. The above-mentioned mammography registry would support this type of research.

PMID:
17319236
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2965587
Free PMC Article

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