Younger women with limited
finances are more likely than others to delay seeking medical attention after
finding an abnormality in their breast, according to a new study.
The study of nearly 600
women recently diagnosed with breast cancer suggested that strategies to
improve early diagnosis of breast cancer should take a woman's financial
situation into account.
"Because we discovered
that women who are less financially comfortable are more likely to delay
seeking medical attention for breast abnormalities that later are diagnosed as
breast cancer, it appears that economic disparity may be an important
consideration in future development of interventions to reduce delays,"
said study leader Dr Kathryn Ruddy, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The study was published
online in the journal Cancer.
"The findings may lead
to research focusing on whether reducing co-pays and hidden costs of seeking
medical care – such as parking charges, child-care expenses and lost wages –
may improve the timeliness of diagnosis in this population," Ruddy said in
a journal news release.
The survey of women aged 40
and younger revealed that 80% of them found an abnormality in their breast on
their own. Seventeen percent waited at least three months before seeing a
Moreover, 12% of the women
who delayed seeing a doctor experienced a lapse of at least 90 days between
that appointment and receiving their diagnosis.
Major delays in seeking
treatment affect only a minority of women who detect their own breast cancer,
the researchers said. As a result, other factors, such as the type of tumour,
likely have a bigger influence on breast cancer results.
The US National Cancer Institute
provides more information on cancer health disparities.