The impact of limited language proficiency in screening for breast cancer


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Department of Surgery


Background: The prevalence of a culturally diverse population in the United States continues to grow. Nevertheless, the national impact of limited English proficiency (LEP) in breast cancer screening is still unknown.

Methods: A retrospective review of the 2015 sample of the National Health Interview Survey database was performed. The cohort included women with and without LEP between 40 and 75 years. We evaluated differences in screening rates, baseline, socioeconomic, access to healthcare, and breast cancer risk factors with univariate and multivariate regression analyses.

Results: The prevalence of LEP was 5.7% (N = 1825, weighted counts 3936,081). LEP women showed a statistically significant lower rate of overall screening mammograms (78% vs. 90%), fewer benign lumps removed (6.4% vs. 17%) and lower rates of access to healthcare variables. They showed a higher rate of nonprivate insurance and living below the poverty line, a lower rate of hormone replacement therapy (1.8% vs. 5.6%), older menarche (12.97 vs. 12.75) and a higher rate of current menstruation (36% vs. 24). LEP women were associated with a lower probability of having a screening mammogram in multivariate analysis (OR: 0.67, 95% CI: 0.51-0.87). When LEP was subdivided into Spanish and "other" languages, Spanish speakers were associated with a lower probability of a screening mammogram (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.49-0.90) while controlling for the same covariates.

Conclusion: The results from our study showed that LEP women are associated with a lower probability of having a screening mammogram. Particularly, the Spanish speakers were found as a vulnerable subgroup.

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