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Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2004 Mar;15(3):160-7.

A community-based breast cancer screening program for medically underserved women: its effect on disease stage at diagnosis and on hazard of death.

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University of Miami School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Miami, Florida 33136,



Earlier studies by this research team found that medically underserved minority women in the Miami-Dade County area of the state of Florida, United States, were in need of breast cancer screening and that there were problems with availability, accessibility, and acceptability of services. In response, a community-based comprehensive breast cancer screening program called the Early Detection Program (EDP) was developed. The specific purpose of this study was to assess the effect that EDP participation had on stage at diagnosis and on hazard of death.


Existing data from the Florida Cancer Data System (FCDS), a statewide cancer registry, were linked with data from the EDP. In December 1998 we assembled a multiethnic (African-American, black Hispanic, white Hispanic, and white non-Hispanic) retrospective cohort with the following inclusion criteria: all women aged 40 and older with breast cancer diagnosed and staged at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center (which is located in the city of Miami, Florida) from January 1987 through December 1997. EDP participants were medically underserved, that is, they resided in lower socioeconomic areas and/or had limited or no health insurance to cover medical costs. Subjects identified as EDP participants were compared to nonparticipants with respect to disease stage at diagnosis and hazard of death. Logistic regression and Cox regression models were used for analysis.


EDP participants were 2.4 times as likely (95% confidence interval = 1.71 to 3.43) to present with a diagnosis of localized cancer as were nonparticipants, even after controlling for race and age at diagnosis. EDP participation was independently associated with both earlier diagnosis and reduced hazard of death.


Participation in the EDP increases the likelihood of early detection of breast cancer and reduces the hazard of death for medically underserved women in the Miami-Dade County area of Florida. Interestingly, white Hispanics showed a better survival than did both African-Americans and white non-Hispanics. Our research also demonstrates the value of utilizing existing cancer registry data to evaluate a community-based program such as the EDP.

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