Citizenship, particularly for non-U.S. natives, largely determines a woman’s odds of having a mammogram and being screened for cervical and colorectal cancer, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 141st Annual Meeting in Boston.

Researchers studied the odds of U.S. residents having received specific colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screenings. The data showed that U.S. born citizens have a 69 percent greater chance of being screened for colorectal cancer than foreign-born female non-citizens living in the U.S. for less than five years.

Additionally, “citizens through naturalization” — who have at least five years of permanent U.S. residency — have a 35 percent greater chance of receiving colorectal cancer screenings than foreign-born female non-citizens living in the U.S. This finding coincides with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that foreign-born residents who are lawfully present in the U.S. will be eligible for health care coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

“Based on these findings we suggest that limits of duration mandates be reduced. This may be an important consideration in immigration policy that ensures preventive health care and reduction of cancer disparities for immigrant women,” said Patricia Y. Miranda, PhD, MPH, Annual Meeting presenter.

Foreign-born non-citizens have significantly lower odds of receiving breast and cervical cancer screening, according to the study.
Miranda and other Penn State University researchers used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the National Health Interview Survey, then analyzed all results from 2000-2010.

“Our findings offer pioneering evidence for the potential protective effects health care and immigration policy reform could have for immigrants — particularly for non-citizens, one of the most vulnerable populations in the United States,” Miranda said.