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Health disparities among breast cancer patients with/without disabilities in Germany.

BACKGROUND: Prevalence and incidence of cancer are increasing in people with disability. Nevertheless, little is known about cancer care for people with disabilities.

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to examine the quality of care of breast cancer patients with pre-existing disabilities regarding diagnosis and type of breast surgery in Germany.

METHODS: Within the framework of quality assurance of breast cancer centers, a patient survey was conducted by the University of Cologne. Survey data from 4626 newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients treated in 86 hospitals were analyzed using multilevel modeling. Data about socio-demographics, disability specific data as well as data about diagnosis and type of surgery were collected.

RESULTS: About 13% (n = 568) of the patients indicated they had a pre-existing disability prior to their breast cancer. The majority of patients with disabilities have physical impairments (PI n = 385; 68.0%) or sensory impairments (SI n = 131; 23.1%). 16.7% of the patients indicated they have a mental illness (MI n = 95; 16.7%) and 8 patients indicated to have an intellectual disability (ID n = 8; 1.4%). Patients with PI and SI are less often diagnosed for cancer through a mammography screening (OR PI = 0.70; p < 0.05; OR SI = 0.58; p < 0.05). Patients with PI are less likely to receive breast conserving treatment (OR = 0.58; p < 0.00) and more likely to have a mastectomy without reconstruction (OR = 1.96; p < 0.00) compared to patients without disabilities.

CONCLUSION: Our data show that there are differences in the frequency of cancer diagnosis through mammography screening and in surgery applied between breast cancer patients with and without disabilities.

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