Immigrant women get mammograms at lower rates than non-immigrant women, a BC Cancer study suggests. (Brandice J. O’Brien photo)

Immigrant women less likely to get breast cancer screening: B.C. study

BC Cancer researcher says access to a primary care physician can help

Immigrant women in B.C. get screened for breast cancer at much lower rates than the general population, a new study suggests.

The study, led by BC Cancer and released earlier this month, was conducted by linking federal immigration information with provincial health data for more than 530,000 women, and suggests immigrant women from all countries studied except for Iran, the U.K. and the U.S. went for mammograms less than non-immigrant women.

“The former U.S.S.R. [countries] had a very low participation rate. Eastern Europe was one of the lower world regions as a whole,” said Ryan Woods, lead author of the study and scientific director for the provincial cancer registry at BC Cancer.

“All of them were screening down into the 30-per-cent participation rates, quite a bit lower in the 51 per cent among non-immigrants.”

Woods said the study also identified Indian women as having screening rates of six per cent below that of non-immigrants.

Although the researchers did not speak with women to find out why they weren’t going for health screenings, Woods said one factor seemed to be whether they had gone to a primary care physician in the months and years leading up to the study. A primary care provider could be anything from a family doctor to a walk-in clinic.

“The women in more frequent contact with a primary care provider have better screenings rates,” he said. “That was the single greatest variable.”

Woods pointed to woman from China and South Korea, who, when they did not visit a doctor, had screening rates of just five or six per cent.

However, women who had visited a doctor at least 10 times in the years leading up to the study had screening rates of 60-65 per cent.

The researchers are planning followup studies to see what kind of health care access is most effective, including the team-based care proposed by the province.

Teaching women that getting mammograms even when they feel healthy is important is key, and the effect is lasting, Woods said.

Immigrant women who got screened once were as likely as non-immigrant women to come back for another mammogram.

“Re-screening is in the 70 per cent rage all around,” said Woods. “Once they’re in the program you at least have them in the system, and you can try to keep them getting screened.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station upgrades completed

It’s the seventh station along Expo Line to see upgrades completed. Construction began in March 2017

Semiahmoo Trail students surpass Coldest Night fundraising goal

Rocco Forte and his team are third-year participants in Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walk

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Surrey students learn the ins and outs of business through workers’ co-operative

Mentors work with youth in voluntary after-school program

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read