Breast screening in women with learning disabilities: current knowledge and considerations

Diane S. Willis, Catriona M. Kennedy, Lynn Kilbride

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    As people with learning disabilities now live longer, they will experience the same age‐related illnesses as the general population and cancer is a prime example of this. In women, cancer screening is used to detect early on‐set of cancer of the breast and abnormalities of the cervix which might, if left untreated, develop into cancer. Disappointingly, the literature on cancer screening in women with learning disabilities consistently reports that cancer screening up‐take is lower in this population compared to women in the general population. This paper presents a review of 35 articles relating to breast cancer, breast cancer screening and breast awareness in women with learning disabilities. Relevant papers and book chapters were located by searching a number of databases and undertaking hand searches, and includes publications from 1997 to 2007. The studies located ranged from localised health initiatives to improve breast awareness and breast screening up‐take, to population studies. Although more is being published on cancer in people with learning disabilities there is still a paucity of literature on breast screening amongst women with learning disabilities. This review therefore, up‐dates current knowledge on breast cancer incidence and breast awareness whilst critically reviewing studies specifically focusing on breast screening in women with learning disabilities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-184
    Number of pages14
    JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008


    • breast cancer
    • breast cancer screening
    • learning disability
    • literature review


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