Women's College Research Institute

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Diabetes a significant barrier to cancer screening

October 2014

Diabetes a significant barrier to cancer screeningResearch has shown that women with diabetes and women of lower socio-economic status (SES) are less likely to get a mammogram. Given the strong association between low SES and diabetes, Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe, a physician at Women’s College Hospital and scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, and a team of collaborators explored whether SES influences the low mammography screening rate among women with diabetes.

The study found that women with diabetes are less likely to be screened for breast cancer compared to women without diabetes, and that the rate of screening increases with increasing SES, both overall and among women with and without diabetes. The study was published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

“Managing the demands of a chronic condition such as diabetes is challenging for many women, leaving other preventative actions, like screening for cancer, to fall by the wayside,” said Lipscombe. “Our study found that having diabetes posed a significant barrier to breast cancer screening even after considering a woman’s socioeconomic status, a known contributor to disparities in care among women.”

 The researchers hope that their findings inform interventions aimed at improving breast cancer screening and detection in women with diabetes, particularly among more socially disadvantaged populations.

“Programs that offer incentives and reminders for cancer screening or allow for self-referral may help ensure all women are getting their mammograms when they need them most,” says Lipscombe.

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