Barriers to Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Cancer Aware 2Written by: Ann P Sorgent RN, BSN Clinical Supervisor with the Agnesian Cancer Center

Although breast cancer is the most common malignancy (tumor) in American women, many barriers in its diagnosis and treatment remain prevalent. In her article in the February 2013 issue of the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, Sabrina Meredith discussed the current research in breast cancer disparities. Meredith found four major barriers to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Removal of these barriers will help to address the disparity.

Lack of health insurance and access to screening: While all women aged 40 and older should receive annual breast cancer screening, many do not. Educating women about the types of screening covered by their insurance may help increase screening rates. Here in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Well Women Project can also assist under or uninsured women get needed screening.

Racial disparities: African American women with breast cancer are diagnosed later and have decreased survival when compared to their Caucasian counterparts.

Socioeconomic status: Poor socioeconomic status and lack of access to screening may result in delayed diagnosis and more advanced breast cancer stages at presentation, ultimately affecting outcomes.

Under use of available therapies: Although adjuvant therapy for early-stage breast cancer has shown significant benefit to disease-free and overall survival, it continues to be underused.

The concept of patient navigation was created as intervention to decrease barriers among women diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to developing a trusting relationship with patients, navigators are responsible for problem solving, critical thinking, and supporting patients as they move through the process from diagnosis to surveillance. At Agnesian HealthCare, we are fortunate to have two breast navigators assist patients in this journey.

This blog summarizes “Disparities in Breast Cancer and the Role of Patient Navigator Programs,” by Sabrina M. Meredith, MSN, ARNP, AOCNP®, which is featured in the February 2013 issue of Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

About Agnesian HealthCare Cancer Care Services

Agnesian HealthCare Cancer Care Services brings cancer care closer to cancer patients. With offices in Fond du Lac, Ripon, and Waupun, there is no need to travel far to get the most advanced technology and treatment.

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