More Women Are Getting Mammograms
U.S. Meets Mammogram Goal for Women Over 40; Some Groups Fall Short
June 30, 2005 -- More
So says a national health survey done in 2002. More than 93,000 women aged
40 and older took part. Seventy-six percent said they had had a mammogram in
the past two years.
The figures exceed the 70% goal set by federal government officials for
Kirsten Barrett, PhD, and colleagues report the statistics in the
American Journal of Health Behavior. Barrett is a senior research
associate at the Center for Public Policy, Survey, and Evaluation Research
Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Checking for Breast Cancer
Mammograms are X-rays that image the breast. They're often used to help
screen for breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among U.S. women, except for
skin cancer. It's also the No. 2 cause of women's cancer deaths, says the
American Cancer Society (ACS).
More than 211,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year,
says the ACS.
Breast cancer death rates have been dropping. That's probably due to earlier
detection and improved treatment, says the ACS.
Which Women Are Getting Mammograms
Women were most likely to have had a mammogram in the past two years if they
had a personal doctor, health insurance, and higher incomes, say the
The youngest and oldest women -- those in their 40s and aged 70 or older --
were least likely to have had mammograms within the last two years.
Here are the percentages of each age group who had had mammograms in the
last two years:
- 40s: 70%
- 50s: 81%
- 60s: 81%
- 70 and older: 76%
Black women topped the racial/ethnic group list:
- Black: 78%
- White: 77%
- Hispanic or Latina: 71%
- American Indian or Native Alaskan: 70%
- Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander: 68%
Room for Improvement
Overall, women over 40 are meeting the government's mammography goals, say
However, they say goals are not being met for women without health
insurance, personal doctors, and basic preventive care.
Mammography recommendations vary.
The ACS recommends annual screening mammograms for all women aged 40 and
older who are in good health. The U.S. government recommends screening
mammograms every one or two years for women aged 40 and older.
Younger women at high risk for breast cancer may want to discuss mammography
with their doctors.
Key Tool for Breast Cancer Detection
Mammograms aren't perfect. They
Women should be told about mammography's
benefits, limits, and potential risks, says the ACS.
Still, the ACS and government officials agree that mammography is often
crucial in finding breast cancer and saving lives. The screening technique can
detect breast cancer at an early stage, when it is small and responsive to