Breast Cancer Standards Not Being Met in Chicago

Researchers trying to fix racial disparity among breast cancer patients

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    Only about one of out three Chicago-area hospitals can prove they're catching breast cancer early.

    The Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium is set to release Thursday a first-of-its kind study on whether hospitals are meeting standards set by the American College of Radiology, American Society of Clinical Oncology and other health groups, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force is attempting to address the widening mortality rates among African-American and Caucasian women in Chicago. Experts believe African-American women are more likely to die from the disease because of substandard screening and treatment.

    Researchers agreed to hide the participating hospitals' identities in exchange for information on their breast cancer screening programs.

    The results showed only about one-third of facilities that offer cancer screening could demonstrate they detected tumors while they were small. Similarly only a third of hospitals could prove they provided treatment 30 days after diagnosis. The task force was unable to determine if the low rate of detection and care were more of a performance problem or a record keeping problem, the Sun-Times reports

    The consortium is hoping the data will explain why there's a disturbing disparity between black and white women.

    "We found, historically, that facilities that service black women in Chicago were less likely to have digital mammography, were less likely to notify patients of abnormal results the same day they were received and were less likely to have mammograms read by breast imaging specialists," said Dr. David Ansell, chairman of the breast cancer task force.

    The consortium issued each hospital a copy of the report to show how each facility compared to others.