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Older women have far fewer mammograms than they report

What older American women say about receiving regular mammograms and what they actually do are two different things, suggests a new study.

And unlike prior studies based on patient self-reports of mammography screening, the new study suggests that older African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic women all receive less screening than do white women.

"The rate of screening mammography among elderly American women is significantly lower than what has been reported based on the self-reported data sources" said lead author Christopher Kagay, M.D. Yet, he said, these inflated rates "are the most frequently cited data by policy makers."

The study, to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed national Medicare data involving 146,669 women ages and older. Researchers compared these data to patient self-reports collected by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the National Health Interview Study (NHIS).The data were amassed between 1991 and 2001.

"The screening rate for most groups of non-white women is substantially lower than that for white women, even while adjusting for factors of health status, access to care, education and income," said Kagay, a radiology resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School.

"Self-reported studies of mammography screening had suggested that there were no significant differences in screening frequency by race -- our study found just the opposite," Kagay said.

While self-reported studies suggested that as many as 70 percent to 80 percent of women ages 65 to 69 received at least one mammogram every two years, the new study paints a far less rosy picture -- with just 61.1 percent of women in this age group overall receiving regular screening, and even lower rates seen among older African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic women.

The study was not designed to illum
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Contact: Christopher Kagay
ckagay@partners.org
Center for the Advancement of Health
20-Jun-2006


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