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Access to mammography may worsen

OAK BROOK, Ill. Community-based mammography facilities do not have enough radiologists and certified technologists to adequately deliver screening and diagnostic services to the public, and the situation may get worse, according to a study published in the May issue of the journal Radiology.

"If we do not address the issues causing the staffing shortage, more facilities will close and screening will become more centralized, perhaps making screening and diagnostic mammography impossible for some women," said the study's lead author, Carl D'Orsi, M.D., professor of radiology and director of the Breast Imaging Center at Emory University in Atlanta.

A 2001-2002 survey of 45 mammography facilities in three states (Washington, New Hampshire and Colorado) found that 44 percent did not have enough radiologists on staff to meet the demand for mammography services. Twenty percent of facilities reported a shortage of Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) qualified technologists, and nearly half (46 percent) reported difficulty in maintaining qualified technologists.

The survey also found that 85 percent of the facilities reported being able to schedule diagnostic mammograms (performed to resolve a question related to a symptom or abnormality of the breast) within one week of a request, while only 30 percent of facilities had the ability to schedule screening mammograms (performed on asymptomatic women to detect early signs of cancer) within a week. Nearly half (47 percent) reported a wait of two or more weeks for screening mammography. In high-volume facilities, the scheduling delays for both diagnostic and screening mammography were two to three times higher than in low-volume facilities, with some facilities reporting waiting times of up to four weeks for a diagnostic mammogram.

The facilities surveyed represent distinct regions of the country. They are part of a breast cancer consortium with access to a great amount of data. "The fact t
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Contact: Maureen Morley
mmorley@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
26-Apr-2005


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