BACKGROUND: The cervical cancer mortality rate for American Indian and Alaska Native women is twice that of all races in the United States. To date the only published national breast and cervical cancer-screening rates for American Indian and Alaska Native women are based on self-reported data. When the Indian Health Service (IHS) conducts an annual audit on patients with diabetes, it includes cancer screening. This observational study presents national breast and cervical cancer-screening rates for American Indian and Alaska Native women with diabetes. METHODS: Cancer-screening rates were extracted from the 1995 diabetic audit for the 12 IHS areas. These rates were compared with rates for women without diabetes of the same age, 50 to 69 years, by chart review, at four IHS hospitals in the Aberdeen IHS area. RESULTS: Screening rates for women with diabetes in the 12 areas varied: mammogram (ever) 35% to 78%; clinical breast examination (last year) 28% to 70%, and Papanicolaou smear (last year) 26% to 69%. The Aberdeen IHS area women with diabetes had 51% more clinic visits per year than women without diabetes, but the groups had similar screening rates. CONCLUSION: Cancer-screening rates for American Indian and Alaska Native women vary by region. In the Aberdeen IHS area, women with diabetes had more visits (missed opportunities) but similar screening rates as women without diabetes. The diabetic audit could be used to monitor national IHS cancer-screening trends for women with diabetes and in the Aberdeen IHS area for all women aged 50 to 69 years.
Comment In: J Am Board Fam Pract. 2000 Nov-Dec;13(6):468-911117349
BACKGROUND: Many American Indian and Alaska Native women have lower incidence rates of breast carcinoma than other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. The rates in most areas, however, have increased in recent years. The author reviews the migration patterns and effects that might contribute to this change. METHODS: A review of the literature on migration and breast carcinoma incidence was conducted. RESULTS: Migration significantly impacts on breast carcinoma incidence in all groups of women studied. CONCLUSIONS: Research must be designed that will explore the components of host, life-styles, and environment on breast carcinoma rates in American Indian and Alaska Native women to elucidate mechanisms of breast carcinoma etiology.
Literature regarding cancer patterns in American Indians and Alaska Native women is reviewed and attention is paid to promising research initiatives to improve cancer prevention and control as well as approaches to enhance exchange of knowledge through a new national resource center. Lung, breast, and colorectal cancer are the leading cause of cancer deaths in American Indians and Alaska Native women. There continues to be a disproportionate death rate from cervical cancer. Enhanced availability for breast and cervical cancer screening in conjunction with community education is showing promising trends toward reversing the patterns of late diagnosis. Communities can benefit from sharing their collective resources in a new national resource center called "Native C.I.R.C.L.E." housed in the Mayo Cancer Center.
Cancer has recently become a major health problem for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data showed that Native American survival rates at 1, 3, and 5 years from cancer diagnosis are the poorest of any minority population studied. The causes for this finding are multifactorial and include a lack of awareness of cancer risks and symptoms, fatalism, and lack of access to screening services. Cancer survivors in native communities can be invaluable resources to educate others, raise cancer awareness, and most importantly prove that cancer is not always fatal.