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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Mammogram Reminders Can Be a Lifesaver

Comprehensive Reminders -- Mailings and Phone Calls -- Boost Mammography Rates

Mammogram Reminders: Study Results

Before the reminders, 63.4% of the women in the targeted group got a mammogram on schedule. By the second year of the program, the number rose to more than 80%, Feldstein says.

The women in the targeted group were 1.5 times more likely to get a mammogram after the reminder than the control group of younger women.

Mammogram Reminders: Perspective

The recent study findings seem to contradict a study, published in 2008, that found mailed mammogram reminders, even when personalized, did not make a difference. In that study, researchers divided 8,444 women aged 52 and older into three groups. One group got a packet of information about mammography in the mail; a second group got the packet and a note telling them when the next appointment was due and a newsletter about mammography. The third group received no information.

During the three-year study, all three groups had similar rates of routine follow-up mammograms.

But the recent study was different, Feldstein says, because it used such a comprehensive approach. "It's the combination that did the trick," Feldstein tells WebMD, referring to the mailing and follow-up messages, both automated and live.

Mammogram Reminders: Second Opinion

"I think this study confirms what many of us have thought and done for years," says Ellen Mendelson, MD, chief of the breast imaging section and professor of radiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. A member of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, Mendelson reviewed the study for WebMD.

Her department sends annual reminders, she says.

In the study, the increase in routine mammograms among targeted women from 63% to more than 80%, Mendelson says, "is really very good."

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