Document Type


Publication Date




There is a breast cancer mortality gap adversely affecting Black women in the United States. This study assessed the relationship between number of days between abnormal mammogram, biopsy, and treatment among Medicare (Part B) beneficiaries ages 65 to 74 and 75 to 84 years, accounting for race and comorbidity.


A cohort of non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White women residing in the continental United States and receiving no services from a health maintenance organization was randomly selected from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services denominator file. The cohort was followed from 2005 to 2008 using Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims data. The sample included 4,476 women (weighted n = 70,731) with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to identify predictors of waiting times.


Black women had a mean of 16.7 more days between biopsy and treatment (p < .001) and 15.7 more days from mammogram to treatment (p = .003) than White women. Median duration from abnormal mammogram to treatment exceeded National Quality Measures for Breast Centers medians regardless of race, age, or number of comorbidities (overall 43 days vs. the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers value of 28 days).


Medical care delays may contribute, in part, to the widening breast cancer mortality gap between Black women and White women. Further study, with additional clinical and social information, is needed to broaden scientific understanding of racial determinants and assess the clinical significance of mammogram to treatment times among Medicare beneficiaries.