Medicare patients who receive mammograms more likely to seek other preventative services

Medicare patients who receive mammograms are more likely to seek additional preventative services such as cervical cancer and osteoporosis screenings, according to a June 5 study in Radiology.

“Screening has the potential to identify early disease that can be curable,” said senior study author Stella Kang, MD, and assistant professor in the Departments of Radiology and Population Health at NYU School of Medicine, in a news release. “It’s encouraging to see that women undergoing mammography may have increased awareness to other preventive screening measures.”

Noting the lack of research into the relationship between mammography and other preventative tests, Kang and colleagues analyzed 555,705 women ages 65 and older enrolled in Medicare. In the treatment group, 185,625 received mammography; the rest did not.

Women who underwent initial mammography screening were more likely to seek additional preventative measures—regardless of a positive or negative result—such as Pap smear, bone mass measurement or influenza vaccine services.

Additionally, a false-positive finding during mammography did not affect whether a woman underwent additional preventative screening.

Authors suggested the findings may pave the way for further studies to analyze mammography’s connection to the comprehension, attitudes and values of patients toward other screening tests. Findings may also present an inroad to policy-level decisions on whether to bundle breast cancer screenings with other preventative tests, authors wrote.

"Our theory is that when patients are counseled about mammography screening, this represents an opportunity for the physician to bring up other preventive services and the health benefits of these services for women in their age group," Kang said in the release. "So a patient's interest in breast cancer services specifically could raise awareness in preventive services overall."