State Average Mammography Screening Rates Lower for Korean American Women in California

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mammography is the best breast cancer screening tool for early breast cancer detection and treatment. Most recent data from the CDC indicates that African American ( 73.2%) and white (72.8%) women had the highest percentages of receiving a mammography within the past two years while other minority ethnic groups had lower percentages (Latina: 69.7%; Native American: 69.4%; Asian: 64.1%).

Lower mammography screening rates among Asian American women nationwide are also seen within the state of California. In a new report published by UCLA Center for Policy and Research, 72% of Asians living in California had mammograms within the past 2 years compared to 83% African American, 81% white women, and 77% Latina women. Asian women aged 40 and older also had screening percentages lower than the state average (79%). After further data disaggregation, Japanese (84.1%), Filipina (78.2%), and Vietnamese (75.6%) women had the highest screening rates among all Californian Asians and were above the state average for All Asians (72.4%). Korean women had a lower screening percentage (52%) compared to Asian women as a whole and the state average. This was also a decrease in screening percentage compared to 2009, when 58% Korean women in California reported having a mammogram within the past 2 years. The authors attribute this lower percentage partially to less access to preventive health services due to un- and under-insurance.

Recommendations include increased culturally tailored education and outreach programs and interventions, expanded research on mammography screening barriers for different Asian ethnic groups, and expanded health coverage.

Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health