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J Cancer Educ. 2013 Sep;28(3):535-40. doi: 10.1007/s13187-013-0499-4.

Breast cancer screening perceptions among American Indian women under age 40.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Center for American Indian Community Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.


Breast cancer mortality rates are the second leading cause of cancer death in American Indian (AI) women. AI breast cancer screening rates have been decreasing, and AI women have some of the lowest screening rates compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Our research team investigated breast cancer and breast cancer screening education prior to recommended age for screening. It is imperative to examine the perspectives of young AI women toward breast cancer screening to better understand screening perceptions among AI women. Following a community-based participatory research approach, we conducted five focus groups and four interviews with AI women aged 25-39 (N = 48) in Kansas and Missouri. Nine themes emerged from the focus groups and relate to topics such as the following: knowledge of breast cancer and breast cancer screening, barriers to screening and treatment, suggestions to improve access, and perceptions and use of health-care systems. Specifically, we found that AI women lacked knowledge of details about screenings and their risks for getting breast cancer, cost was cited as a primary barrier to screening, additional education was needed (particularly materials that were AI focused), breast health was generally not discussed with others, and more instruction was requested for techniques used to identify bodily changes or abnormalities. Understanding attitudes of AI women not of recommended screening age may provide an insight into low screening rates among AI women. Furthermore, the results may inform outreach strategies to improve current and future screening rates.

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