Adherence to cancer screening recommendations was not found to vary by race/ethnicity and body weight/obesity. In a focused look at the influence of body mass index (BMI) as a measure of obesity, researchers found some screening disparities may be decreasing. These findings were reported in Journal of Women’s Health (doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5270).

Although the higher rate of cancer-related deaths among racial minorities has often been attributed to disparities in adherence to cancer screening recommendations, this study found no notable variation in likelihood to follow cancer screening recommendations for Pap test and mammography among racial/ethnic groups in a national sample of women classified by BMI as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Among Black women, those who were overweight were less likely to undergo a Pap test than those who were underweight or normal weight. Other disparities in cancer screening adherence were associated with age, insurance coverage, and income among racial/ethnic groups in this study’s sample population.


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The study was conducted by Jacqueline Hirth, PhD, MPH; Tabassum Haque Laz, MBBS, PhD; Mahbubur Rahman, MBBS, PhD, MPH; and Abbey Berenson, MD, PhD, all from University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

The authors concluded that although the Affordable Care Act is expected to reduce the number of uninsured persons in the United States, more screening opportunities are needed for uninsured or low-income women, who may not know how to access care.

This research was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.