Disabilities and Breast Cancer Screening

Disabilities and Breast Cancer Screening

Take-Home Message:

Women with disabilities have lower rates of breast cancer screening than other women.


Disability and participation in breast and bowel cancer screening in England: a large prospective study

Authors: Floud S. et. al.

Source: British J of Cancer (2017), 1-4 doi: 10.1038/bjc.2017.331


It is understood that people with disabilities may be less likely to undergo cancer screening. These investigators noted that such information was not available in their home country of England. All women aged 50-70 in that nation are offered routine breast cancer screening. The group looked at the likelihood of screening among women with disabilities.

The Million Women Study includes over 1 million women in England; they are sent questionnaires every few years to follow the characteristics, health and outcomes in this population. The questionnaire in 2006-2007 asked about disabilities.

Approximately 23% of respondents reported some type of disability. The most common type was mobility. Other disabilities reported were vision defects and self-care difficulties. Overall, women with any disability were older, had lower income levels and had less education. They were also less likely to be married or have a car, and were more likely to be smokers and obese.

Women with disabilities were 36% less likely to undergo breast cancer screening compared to women with no disabilities, even after adjusting for income levels. The greatest difference in screening was among women with self-care and vision difficulties.

This study adds to the general understanding that women with disabilities are less likely to receive breast cancer screening. This information is useful for the creation of breast cancer screening programs. Special consideration should be given to specific disabilities so that more women can participate.