Survey: Almost half of women over 40 skip annual mammogram

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Many adult women are failing to take heed of suggestions from physicians that they receive an annual mammogram as recommended by the American Cancer Society. According to conclusions from a new survey conducted by Eastman Kodak Company’s Health Group and Zoomerang in December 2006 nearly half (49.6 percent) of women aged 40 and older say they do not get the exams.
The women surveyed said they are aware of the risks of breast cancer, and the benefits of annual screening, yet offered an assortment of reasons why they don’t get the exams. Over 37 percent of women said they are unaware of how often they should have a mammogram based on their age and risk level. Of those that do know, 32 percent said they do not follow the recommended timeframes. The reasons: lack of medical insurance (19 percent); not considering it a high priority (15 percent); and not believing they are at risk (12 percent).
“Regular screening is important, and these data suggest that there is a significant gap between the recognized threat of breast cancer and actually getting annual mammograms,” said Dr. Richard Hirsh, staff radiologist at Summa Health System and assistant professor of Radiology at North Eastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.
“It is important that the healthcare professionals understand that uncertainty about how frequently women should get mammograms may contribute to irregular screening, and take steps to be sure their patients are informed about the importance of annual mammograms,” added Hirsh.
Thirty-seven percent of women believe technology to be the number one factor in receiving a high quality mammogram, and 59 percent of the participants said they would travel a further distance for a digital exam, even though digital mammography technology has not been shown to offer an advantage over conventional mammography for most women.
“The single most important factor in reaping the benefits from mammography screening,” said Hirsh, “is that women receive regular, annual mammograms. This is more important than the particular technology used.”
The findings were pulled from an online survey of over 680 women.