Women with diabetes are 14% less likely to undergo routine mammography compared with those without diabetes, found researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluation Sciences (ICES) in collaboration with Women’s College Hospital, both in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The recent study, by Lorraine Lipscombe, MD, and colleagues, published in Diabetic Medicine, reviewed the mammography rates of 504,288 women aged 50 to 69 years between 1999 and 2010. Of these women, 188,759 had diabetes; 315,529 did not. 

The investigators looked at the likelihood of at least one screening mammogram in the women with diabetes within a 36-month period starting January 1, 1999, their 50th birthday, or 2 years after their diabetes diagnosis—whichever date came last. They compared the results with those of age-matched women without diabetes, adjusting for socioeconomic status and other factors. 

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A total of 321,564 (63.8%) women had mammograms. Women with diabetes had lower mammography rates, even if they were in the highest socioeconomic status quintile. This is significant because women with diabetes are at an increased risk for breast cancer and have poorer survival rates once diagnosed.

“Managing the demands of a chronic condition such as diabetes is challenging for many women, leaving other preventative actions, like screening for cancer, to fall by the wayside,” pointed out Lipscombe in a statement.

“Our study found having diabetes posed a significant barrier to breast cancer screening even after considering a woman’s socioeconomic status, a known contributor to disparities in care among women.”