Considering Race in Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

An article titled ‘Race matters for breast cancer screening protocols,’ was published last month on The article highlights a study published online in JAMA Surgery that examined the age distribution of breast cancer diagnosis in the United States across race and ethnicity. The intention of the study was to confirm that current age-based screening guidelines do not take factors such as race into account, resulting in underscreening and missed or delayed diagnosis. The study found that more women of color were diagnosed with breast cancer younger than age 50 than white women. African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and white patients were all compared.

The timing of this research coincides perfectly with National Minority Health Month, observed each April. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and work toward eliminating health disparities. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recently released a statement that recognizes African-American women as high risk for breast cancer. They call for all women to have a risk assessment at age 30 to determine if screening is needed earlier than age 40.

“It is important to bring awareness to disparities in breast cancer screening,” says Bonnie Joe, MD, PhD, Chief of Breast Imaging at UC San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. “The ACR and SBI’s recommendations are based on factors including a higher mortality rate, higher frequency of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations, and later stages of detection. Breast cancer screening can lead to earlier detection which can bring death rates down and survival rates up.”

UCSF Imaging continues to stand in accordance with guidelines from the American College of Radiology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and additional health organizations that breast cancer screening should begin for all women at age 40.

For more information on breast imaging at UCSF, please click here.

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