Disparities in breast cancer among patients with disabilities: care gaps, accessibility, and best practices

Grace Keegan, John Ross Rizzo, Kathie Ann Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pronounced disparities exist in detecting and treating breast cancer in women with disabilities, leading to cancer detection at advanced stages. This paper provides an overview of disparities for women with disabilities related to breast cancer screening and care, primarily focusing on clinically significant mobility disabilities. Current care gaps include screening barriers related to accessibility and inequitable treatment options, with race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and disability severity factors mediating the disparities for this population. The reasons for these disparities are myriad and stem from both system-level deficiencies and individual-level clinician bias. Although structural changes are warranted, individual healthcare professionals must also be incorporated into the requisite change. Intersectionality is critical to disparities and inequities and should be central to any discussion of strategies for improving care for people with disabilities, many of whom have intersectional identities. Efforts to reduce screening rate disparities for breast cancer in women with mobility-related disabilities should start with improving accessibility through removing structural barriers, establishing comprehensive accessibility standards, and addressing healthcare professional bias. Future interventional studies are needed to implement and assess the value of programs to improve breast cancer screening rates in women with disabilities. Increasing the representation of women with disabilities in clinical trials may provide another avenue for reducing treatment disparities because these trials often provide breakthrough treatment to women with cancer diagnosed at later stages. Ultimately, attention to the specific needs of patients with disabilities should be improved across the United States to promote inclusive and effective cancer screening and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1144
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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