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Do breast cancer testing guidelines hurt minorities?

A new report shows that breast cancer screening guidelines that doctors use to determine which women they should screen for cancer were created based on data from only white females. This bias might unintentionally create the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer in many minorities.

There are genetic and racial differences among patients that make some patients more susceptible to breast cancer than others. As such, the science used to create clinical guidelines must reflect these differences to provide the best kind of care for all patients.

What do the breast cancer screening guidelines say?

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, female patients of average risk should begin receiving breast cancer screening after reaching the age of 50. What isn't entirely clear, however, is whether this guideline is also appropriate for women from non-white ethnic groups.

According to statistics, the average age for breast cancer diagnoses among white women was 59. For black women, it was 56, for Hispanic women, it was 55 and for Asian women, it was only 46. As you can see, some ethnic groups statistically develop cancer at younger ages than other ethnic groups. As such, shouldn't doctors recommend testing at younger age ranges for these groups who are more susceptible to developing cancer?

What do the experts say?

According to one doctor, "The situation with breast cancer is one of the best examples of how science completed without regard to racial differences can produce guidelines that would be ultimately harmful to minority patients." The doctor further claimed that we need to detect racial biases like these found in scientific literature to ensure that every patient receives the best and most advanced medical care possible.

Delayed diagnosis is dangerous and deadly to cancer patients

The sooner a doctor detects cancer, the sooner a patient can start to receive life-saving medical care. This is why any extra time it takes to detect cancer can be deadly for a patient.

A doctor who misses the obvious warning signs of cancer may be at fault and liable for medical negligence and delayed diagnosis in many cases.

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