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Obesity Is a Barrier to Breast, Cervical Cancer Screening

Efforts to increase screening among obese women are needed

TUESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are obese are less likely to undergo recommended screening for cervical and breast cancer, suggesting that efforts to improve screening should target this population, according to an article published online March 24 in Cancer.

Sarah S. Cohen, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., and colleagues reviewed 32 published studies, including 10 breast cancer studies, 14 cervical cancer studies and eight colorectal studies, in order to investigate the association between obesity and screening rates for these cancers among U.S. women.

Most cervical cancer studies reported an inverse relationship between increasing body size and decreasing rates of cervical cancer screening, the researchers report. Obesity was associated with decreased rates of breast cancer screening among white, but not black women. The association of obesity with colon cancer screening was variable, with some studies reporting an inverse relationship between body size and screening but others finding no effect.

"Overall, the results indicated that obesity most likely is a barrier to screening for breast and cervical cancers, particularly among white women; the evidence for colorectal cancer screening was inconclusive. Thus, efforts to identify barriers and increase screening for breast and cervical cancers may be targeted toward obese women, whereas outreach to all women should remain the objective for colorectal cancer screening programs," the authors conclude.

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