Fewer Women Than Thought Follow Mammogram Screening Guidelines
About two-thirds of women ages 40 and older get mammograms every one to two years as recommended, according to a study published on Monday by Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center, USA Today reports. The study, which relied on a database that includes information on actual visits to 40 of New Hampshire's 44 mammography facilities, suggests that U.S. women might not be getting mammograms as frequently as previously thought.
Prior research, based on surveys of women, indicated that about four out of five U.S. women ages 40 and older followed the recommendations. Lead author Patricia Carney said, "We ought to be doing better than this," adding that screening reduces breast cancer death rates by 30% in women ages 50 and older and by 17% in women in their 40s. Robert Smith, director of screening the American Cancer Society, said that women do not receive mammograms as recommended in part because they either do not have an established relationship with a primary care doctor or, if they do, their doctors are not reminding them to get mammograms. Smith said that women should take the initiative and designate a month for their annual or biennial mammograms (Rubin, USA Today, 9/12).