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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • mammography;
  • surveillance;
  • survivor;
  • epidemiology;
  • health care access

BACKGROUND

Annual surveillance mammography is recommended after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Previous studies have suggested that surveillance mammography varies by demographics and initial tumor characteristics, which are related to an individual's access to health care. The Military Health System of the Department of Defense provides beneficiaries with equal access health care and thus offers an excellent opportunity to assess whether racial differences in surveillance mammography persist when access to care is equal.

METHODS

Among female beneficiaries with a history of breast cancer, logistic regression was used to assess racial/ethnic variations in the use of surveillance mammography during 3 periods of 12 months each, beginning 1 year after diagnosis adjusting for demographic, tumor, and health characteristics.

RESULTS

The rate of overall surveillance mammography decreased from 70% during the first year to 59% during the third year (P < .01). Although there was an overall tendency for surveillance mammography to be higher among minority women compared with non-Hispanic white women, after adjusting for covariates, the difference was found to be significant only during the first year among black women (odds ratio [OR], 1.46; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.10-1.95) and the second year among Asian/Pacific Islander (OR, 2.29; 95%CI, 1.52-3.44) and Hispanic (OR, 1.92; 95%CI, 1.17-3.18) women. When stratified by age at diagnosis and type of breast cancer surgery performed, significant racial differences tended to be observed among younger women (aged < 50 years) and only among women who had undergone mastectomies.

CONCLUSIONS

Minority women were equally or more likely than non-Hispanic white women to receive surveillance mammography within the Military Health System. The racial disparities in surveillance mammography reported in other studies were not observed in a system with equal access to health care. Cancer 2013;119:3531–3538.. © 2013 American Cancer Society.