Mammograms Drop in Women 40 & Older
Percentage of Women Getting Lifesaving Breast Cancer Screen Every 1-2 Years Falls, CDC Reports
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 25, 2007 -- The CDC reports a drop in the percentage of U.S. women 40
and older getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
Based on government health surveys, the percentage of women 40 and older who
reported getting a mammogram in the last one to two years dropped from 76.4% in
2000 to 74.6% in 2005, the CDC says.
If the trend continues, it could mean a rise in breast cancer deaths in the
future, the agency warns.
Women should get mammograms to screen for breast cancer every one to two
years, starting at age 40, advises the CDC.
Mammograms are X-rays of the breast.
While they don’t single-handedly diagnose breast cancer and aren't
guaranteed to spot all breast tumors, mammograms can be lifesavers.
Screening mammograms -- the kind given routinely even when the woman doesn't
have a breast lump -- have been shown to cut breast cancer deaths by 20% for
women in their 40s and by 20% to 35% for those 50 to 69, according to the
Reasons for the screening downturn aren't clear but may be due at least in
part to a shortage of facilities and trained breast specialists for the growing
number of women 40 and older.
Study Based on Health Surveys
In its study, the CDC analyzed data from annual government health surveys
conducted by telephone from 2000 to 2005.
Surveyors asked women 40 and older if they had ever gotten a mammogram, and,
if so, how long it had been since their last one.
The number of women 40 and older participating in the surveys ranged from
nearly 14,400 in 2001 to more than 95,000 in 2004.
Mammograms Save Lives
The CDC calls the drop in mammogram screening "slight."
But "because mammography screening every 1-2 years can significantly
reduce mortality from breast cancer, continued declines in mammography use
might result in increased breast cancer mortality rates," states the CDC in
its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists, and American Cancer Society also recommend screening mammograms
for women starting at age 40, though those groups may recommend different
timetables for such mammograms.
For instance, the American Cancer Society recommends women 40 and older get
a screening mammogram every year.
Women at high risk for breast cancer may need to start screening