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Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Genetic Testing

Black Women Less Likely Than Whites to Get Counseling for Genetic Screening

Why the Gap?

No reason explained the large black-white gap.

The researchers say it was not due to:

  • Differences in risk factors for carrying a BRCA1/2 gene mutation
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Risk perception
  • Attitudes
  • Primary care physician recommendations

Type of health insurance coverage was not associated with BRCA1/2 screening. The researchers say they aren't sure if the same patterns hold for women in other cities.

Distrust, Discrimination Fears?

Distrust of the health care system has been shown to be higher among blacks than whites, and new technologies (such as genetic testing) might be particularly sensitive, say researchers.

But only four out of 88 black women who did not get screened agreed with the statement that "testing leads to discrimination." That question didn't specifically get at the possibility of racial discrimination. Some groups may be more reluctant to undergo genetic testing because of concerns about how testing information might be used, write the researchers.

They say that the study further highlights the need to move forward in developing health and social policy that ensures the potential benefit of the Human Genome Project for all segments of the population.

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