Detection Inequality: Disparity Among Breast Cancer Screening Access

Sixty-one percent of white women report having mammograms vs. 46 percent of racial, ethnic minorities.
6:43 | 10/01/13

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Transcript for Detection Inequality: Disparity Among Breast Cancer Screening Access
us. A brave moment for our dear colleague, amy robach. She's having a mammogram right here. This is a mammovan. This is amy's first. She is sharing that experience with us. She began the process, with a consultation with the technician. And as you can see, here's why she decided to take this step and share it with all of you. When abc producers called me last week and asked me to have a mammogram on live, national television, my first instinct was, no way. Never going to do it. I'm 40 years old. I've never had a mammogram. I've avoided it. And I started thinking, wow, if I put it off, how many other people have put it off, as well? I went in to see robin, who is a breast cancer survivor and thriver. And she said, if one life is saved because of early detection, it's all worth it. It going to do this. Robin, this one's for you. No. This is for everyone. And I remember when we had that conversation just a couple of days ago. We're so thankful that amy is sharing this with us. To show everyone what it's like to have that all-important mammogram. So much confusion about this crucial test. Amy went out and talked to women to find out what they're thinking. You know what age is recommended by doctors to have your first mammogram? I have no idea. 40, maybe. Something like that. EARLY 30s. 30? 35? Reporter: Such a highly emotional and personal decision. Yet, with revolving recommendations on breast cancer prevention, many women are left confused. Here's what you need to know. Mammograms are the number one recommended detection method. But there's varying opinions on when. Some recommend 40, when the age of breast cancer increase. Others say once a year, starting at age 50, when breast tissue is less dense and less likely to give false positives. The recommendations are going to have to be key to the different phases of our lives. Reporter: Most importantly, get to know your breasts. Our own robin roberts and other survivors like her, found a lump through self-exam. We know early detection works, sadly, not everyone has access. The black/white disparity in breast cancer is greater in 2012 than anytime in our history. Reporter:61% of white women report having a mammogram. Versus 46% of racial and ethnic minorities. Amy is wrapping up her first mom gram here in the mammovan. Her results will with sent directly to her doctor. Before she comes out, let's turn to dr. Jen ashton. I know you're excited about this day because it brings awareness. And when it comes to mammograms, there's a lot of myths out there. Legitimate concern, as well. One of the concerns is about the fear of the procedures. So much on women's mind. I hear this from women all the time. I think what a lot of women will say is smaller-breasted women, there's a discomfort because the procedure pinches the chest wall. Larger-breasted women, will get more compression of the breast. That's a discomfort that lasts for seconds. You have to ask yourself, what does it need to happen to get through that fear and get the benefits of finding out that the mammogram has been done. It's very important. I wish we could send this mammovan, across the country. I would love to get tested. But I don't have insurance. I can't afford it. It's a legitimate problem. Absolutely. And we're not getting access to all the women who want to be screened and need to be screened. Women out there need to know if they do not have insurance, the vans are present in many states in the country. People on these vans can help you get access. You do need a prescription because you need to have some follow-up. And those laws vary state-by-state. And the cdc has programs in every state. If you want to get one, do not give up. Be proactive. And there's different types. Amy's doctor suggested that she get the 2d not 3d. People are hearing about 3d. Radiologists with whom I spoke said it's probably going to be the way of the future. It reduces recalls or callbacks for the images we can't see very well. But the most important thing on any mammogram, who is reading those films. The radiologist reading those images can do just as good a job with a 2d as a 3d. How are you? How was it? I was to say exactly how it felt. And it hurt so much less than i thought it was going to hurt. It was like nothing. My lasik eye surgery was more painful than this. And that was easy. You said like a lot of people. Your doctor said at the beginning of the year for you to have it? I talked with her yesterday. It was october of last year that she gave me the prescription. And then, I lost the prescription. And then, life gets busy. You think, I don't have a family history. Is it really that pressing? And then, you told me those numbers. She was so nervous this morning. She is so happy right now. I can see it on her face. I know. The relief in your eyes. Tears in her eyes. I want to say something about young women because it's very important. You can't talk about a 40-year-old getting a mammogram without talking about breast density. You hear that all the time. Are you dense? And in fact, there is legislation, now, in many states requiring the mammography report to say if your breasts are dense. Very common in young women. But you can be 70 and have dense breasts. It should be included on the report. And you're should ask your doctor if a sonogram or ultrasound should be done. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was not detected by the mammogram. It was by the ultrasound. Very important. Very happy for you. Your doctors will receive the results? Yeah. That will be between the two of us. And we'll consult within a day or two. Thank you for pushing me in the right direction. She did it. Prioritizing her breast health. We want you to do the same, by taking the pink pledge. And get the information you need about breast cancer. We'd love for you to go on our website. You're surrounded in pink,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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