According to a new report released Feb 3, 2009 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mammography use has declined this decade in nearly two-thirds of the states.
The CDC’s data analysis showed that mammography use increased slightly from 2000 to 2006 in 17 states — including Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. But it fell by 0.3 to 5.3 percent in the 34 states and the District of Columbia, including Utah, South Carolina, New Mexico and Delaware.
The study also found that breast cancer incidence rates fell in all but one state (Tennessee) between 2000 and 2004. However, the researchers did not identify a clear pattern among the states in terms of region, average age, average income or population density.
The study was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
Dr. Jacqueline Miller, the study’s lead author, expressed concern in a CDC news release that the rate might actually be higher among women who live in “low resource areas.”
“Women in these areas may not have a convenient place to go,” Miller said. “Also, reports have shown that insurance co-pays were related to women not getting their mammogram, and we know that some insurance companies have increased their co-pay requirements. When there are more out-of-pocket costs, women start weighing the costs of screening against other competing factors.”
Miller said that monitoring state-level trends in breast cancer screening practices and breast cancer incidence should help researchers identify changes at an early stage.
“We need to do more to get the word out to women and health-care providers about the importance of mammography,” Miller said.
The drop in mammography screening is especially concerning because breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and early detection from mammogram testing is the most important thing a women can do to safeguard herself.
The American Cancer Society urges all women to get a clinical breast exam each year once they reach the age of 40. Health experts also say women over 40 should have a mammogram every year or two.
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