Women with Disabilities and Breast Cancer Screening
October is an important month for all women including women with disabilities. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and having a screening mammogram regularly is an important way to maintain good health.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. October is an important month for all women including women with disabilities. The Health Insurance Marketplace makes it easier for women with disabilities who are uninsured or underinsured to have greater access and expanded coverage to preventive services, including mammograms.
Women with Disabilities Are Less Likely to Have Received a Mammogram During the Past Two Years
Unfortunately, studies show that women with disabilities are less likely than women without disabilities to have received a mammogram in the past two years.1 They are also less likely to receive routine clinical preventive services.2,3,4 Clinical preventive services are healthcare services that are delivered in clinical settings (typically a medical clinic or hospital) to identify early or prevent the onset of health conditions and illnesses.
Percentage of U.S. Adult Women 50-74 Years of Age who Received a Mammogram During the Past 2 Years, By Disability Status - 2010 National Health Interview Survey*
* CDC/NCHS. National Health Interview Survey Data, 2010.3
Early Detection Saves Lives
Thinking "breast cancer won't happen to me" is a risk no woman should take. Having a mammogram screening regularly is an important way to maintain good health. A mammogram, which is an X-ray picture of the breast, is the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easiest to treat and before it is big enough to feel or to cause symptoms.
- If breast cancer is found early, treatment can have a greater chance for success.
- Many women who are diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer live long and healthy lives.
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines 6
If you are between the ages of 50-74 years, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are between the ages of 40-49 years, talk to your doctor about when and how often you should have a screening mammogram.
The Impact of Health Care Reform on Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps make breast cancer and cervical cancer screening services and prevention affordable and accessible for many low-income, underserved women through expanded insurance coverage and eliminated cost-sharing. But even with adequate health insurance, many women will still face substantial barriers to obtaining breast and cervical cancer screening such as limited health literacy, less self-efficacy or self-confidence in one's ability to obtain screening, lack of provider recommendation, inconvenient times to access services, and language barriers.7
CDC and other public health agencies have the opportunity to build on existing cancer screening programs– to focus on quality delivery of clinical preventive services. CDC has implemented several new activities to prepare for the implementation of healthcare reform and expand the impact and reach of our cancer screening programs. As the ACA and related efforts are implemented, CDC and its state program partners will continue to look for opportunities to improve preventive service use.8
What is CDC Doing to Improve Mammography Among Women with Disabilities?
Health promotion campaigns and messages about breast cancer screening that are specifically designed to include women with disabilities may reduce these disparities in mammography use. CDC, along with its partners, is working to improve mammography use among women with disabilities. For example:
- The Florida Office on Disability and Health is increasing the number of train-the-trainer sessions on mammograms and women with disabilities.
- The Rhode Island Disability and Health Program is ensuring that women with disabilities have access to mammograms.
- The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health is working to educate healthcare professionals about the specific needs of and appropriate communication with women with disabilities.
- The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCMP)'s TOOLBOX is providing links to tools that will increase knowledge about recommended services, identify service gaps, identify accessible healthcare facilities and transportation, and improve healthcare interactions between clinicians and women with disabilities.
- The CDC's "Breast Cancer Screening: The Right To Know" Campaign is raising awareness about breast cancer among women with physical disabilities and encouraging women to get screened. The campaign developed a family of health promotion materials and featured four women with physical disabilities who have survived breast cancer.
- Courtney-Long E., Armour B., Frammartino B., & Miller J. (2011). Factors associated with self-reported mammography use for women with and women without a disability. Journal of Women's Health, 20:1279-1286.
- Weitz T.A., Freund, K.M., & Wright, L. (2001). Identifying and caring for underserved populations: Experience of the national centers of excellence in women's health. Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine,10(10), 937–952.
- Wisdom, J.P., McGee, M.G., Horner-Johnson, W., Michael, Y.L., Adams, E., & Berlin, M.(2010). Health disparities between women with and without disabilities: A review of the research. Social Work in Public Health, 25(3), 368–386.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disability and Health Data System (DHDS). Accessed June 2013.
- Data File Documentation, National Health Interview Survey, 2010 (machine readable data file and documentation). National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland. 2010. Disclaimer: The NHIS analyses in this report are those of the authors and not NCHS, which is responsible only for the initial data.
- Screening for Breast Cancer, Topic Page. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Accessed July 1, 2010.
- CDC National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). Accessed August 21 2013.
- New Directions: The Future of Cancer Screening. CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. Accessed August 5 2013.
- CDC's Disability and Health
- CDC's Disability and Health Data System
- CDC's State Disability and Health Programs
- CDC's Campaign: "Breast Cancer Screening: The Right to Know."
- AMCHP TOOLBOX: Improving the Receipt of Clinical Preventive Services Among Women with Disabilities
- Basic Breast Cancer Information
- Breast Cancer Screening
- New Directions: The Future of Cancer Screening
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Summary of Recommendations on Breast Cancer Screening
- Page last reviewed: October 27, 2014
- Page last updated: October 27, 2014
- Content source:
- National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Human Development and Disability
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs