African American Women More Likely to Have Communication Problems When Getting Mammogram Results

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Recent research has shown that more African American woman are getting mammograms. That's good news. But to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner, any abnormal mammogram results have to be clearly communicated to you and your doctor. That doesn't always happen.

A study reports that African American women were twice as likely to have communication problems when getting their mammogram results. It didn't matter if the results were normal or abnormal. These communication problems could be one reason why African American women are less likely than white women to have breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage and are more likely to die from breast cancer. Communication problems were the worst when mammogram results were abnormal. About 31% of abnormal mammogram results were poorly communicated to African American women, while only about 6% of abnormal mammogram results were poorly communicated to white women.

These troubling results happened BEFORE a 1998 law was passed to address this problem. The law requires that mammography centers give a written report of mammogram results to all women. The law also says that the report must be written in easy-to-understand terms. It's hoped that the communication problems reported in this study have gotten better because of the law. But there are some weaknesses in the law, so there may still be some problems. For example, the law doesn't require that a mammography center verify that reports sent to women are actually received.

No matter what your ethnicity, do your part to make sure you get your mammogram results in a timely way. Ask your mammography center how and when you and your doctors will get the results. Make sure the center has your correct address and phone number. When you have a mammogram, make sure you get your results. If any of the results are questionable or if you don't understand what the report says, call your doctor right away. It's YOUR health and YOUR future. Do your part to make sure you get the best care possible.

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