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Few Women Comply with Mammogram Guidelines

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Findings from a new study indicate that only 6 percent of women get a screening mammogram every year starting at age 40 as recommended by the American Cancer Society. Because annual screening has been shown to improve breast cancer survival, such underuse is particularly concerning.

The results, which appear in the medical journal Cancer, are based on a study of 72,417 women who underwent a total of 254,818 screening mammograms between 1985 and 2002 at a major breast center in Boston. As noted, of the women who received a mammogram in 1992, just 6 percent remained compliant with annual screening in the next 10 years, senior author Dr. James S. Michaelson, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues note. Instead of the 10 mammograms that should have been performed during this period, the average number was only 5.1. Entering this data into a computer program designed to consider breast cancer detection, growth, and spread, revealed a likely increase in death rates, the researchers state. Predictors of mammogram underuse included being a member of a traditionally underserved racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group, lacking insurance, and not speaking English. In addition, first mammogram status and not returning promptly after a previous screening were linked to lower levels of use. Higher levels of mammogram use were seen for women between 55 and 65 years of age and for women with a history of breast cancer. “The current study reveals that failure to receive regular mammographic screening is common enough that it is likely to reducing the life-sparing potential of this technique,” the investigators conclude. Postal and telephone reminders “are a somewhat unglamorous and neglected aspect of breast screening, but we believe that their use can have an enormous impact on breast (cancer) death rates.” (SOURCE: Cancer: Reuters Health News: June 2004.)

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Posted On: 24 June, 2004
Modified On: 3 December, 2013

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