Friday, January 26, 2007

Survey Finds Slight Decline in Mammogram Rates

Today's issue of Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report includes the piece, "Use of Mammograms Among Women Aged >40 Years --- United States, 2000--2005," which describes findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey indicating that the rate of getting mammograms reported by U.S. women has declined. Based on the surveys, the percentage of women age 40 or older reporting having had a mammogram in the past two years decreased from 76.4% in 2000 to 74.6% in 2005; the National Cancer Institute recommends that all women in this age group have a mammogram every 1-2 years. While this seems like a small percentage change, it was considered statistically significant. According to a Washington Post article on the findings, "The decline of less than 2 percentage points may seem small, but it could be terribly significant, Lichtenfeld [of the American Cancer Society] said. But if you consider that about 80 million U.S. women should be getting a mammogram every year, it means more than 1 million fewer women are getting the screening test, he said."

The Healthy People 2010 (a set of national health objectives) recommendation of having 70% of these women reporting mammogram was still met, despite the decline. The MMWR piece describes several limitations of the study, such as small sample size, representing only certain states, lack of confirmation with medical records, and overestimation of breast cancer screening by including mammograms that were done for reasons other than routine screening.

Resources:
  • Screening Mammograms: Questions and Answers - National Cancer Institute
  • Mammograms: Not Just Once, But For a Lifetime - National Cancer Institute
  • Mammograms (frequently asked questions) - National Women's Health Information Center
  • Mammograms - Food and Drug Administration
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Digital Mammography - Food and Drug Administration
  • Mammograms and Other Breast Imaging Procedures - American Cancer Society
  • Mammograms - Information from Medicare on mammogram coverage
  • Mammography: Search for a Qualified Facility - Food and Drug Administration
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