Socioeconomic Factors, Immigration Status, and Cancer Screening Among Mexican American Women Aged 75 and Older

Older Hispanic women have high rates of cervical cancer and breast cancer mortality, often because they do not use cancer screening. A study exploring the association of socioeconomic factors and acculturation with cancer screening use among older Mexican-American women found that socioeconomic factors and insurance coverage, but not acculturation, determine women’s use of cancer screening.

The authors analyzed data on women aged 75 or older from the 2004-2005 Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemologic Study of the Elderly, looking for mammography or pap smear use in the previous two years.

Older age, lower education, lower income and having public insurance were associated with lower pap smear and mammography use. Younger women who were married, more highly educated, with higher income, with fewer functional limitations and with a history of cancer had higher rates of pap smear and mammography use. Uninsured women had the lowest rates of screening, while women with private insurance had the highest. Immigration status and language use were not associated with use of cancer screening.

The authors suggest that older women may have lower rates of cancer screening because they prefer not to be screened, because of limited access or because physicians do not offer screening to older patients. They recommend further study on the impact of insurance status and other socioeconomic factors on cancer screening.