JAMA Oncology study led by Marissa Lawson, M.D., suggests ‘structural racism’ in breast-biopsy delays

Marissa Lawson, M.D., had her first-authored original research paper published in JAMA Oncology today. The paper suggests structural racism as a major contributor to delayed diagnoses among U.S. women of minority race and ethnicity after abnormal mammography screenings. 

“Even after adjusting for multiple factors thought to contribute to delayed diagnosis, we still see persistent disparities among minority women, particularly Black women. To me, this suggests that other underlying factors are contributing to these differences in time to biopsy,” Dr. Lawson, an acting instructor, said.

The study reviewed 46,185 cases of women whose screening mammograms had shown a tissue abnormality that called for a biopsy to see if it was cancerous. In an unadjusted model using the time-to-biopsy of white patients as the reference, the researchers found that at 30 days out, Asian women at a 66% higher risk of not undergoing a biopsy, Black women had a 52% higher risk, and Hispanic women had a 50% higher risk. At 90 days out, Black women had a 28% higher risk of not undergoing a biopsy, Asian women had a 21% higher risk and Hispanic women had a 12 % higher risk.

Christoph Lee, M.D., MBA, professor of radiology, also contributed to the paper. 

To read more about the study, visit the UW Newsroom. To read the study itself, visit JAMA Oncology.


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