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

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Chinese medicine practitioner in B.C. facing historical sex assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

B.C. woman set for trial in Alberta as animal cruelty investigation continues in home province

Karin Adams was discovered with eight dogs in Alberta weeks after having 16 dogs seized in Quesnel

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Most Read