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Medical News & Perspectives
July 12, 2006

Women Have Fewer Mammograms Than They Report

JAMA. 2006;296(2):160. doi:10.1001/jama.296.2.160

A new study indicates that older women receive fewer mammograms than they say and that black, Asian American, and Hispanic women are less likely than white women to have screening mammography. The article (Kagay CR et al) will be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (http://www.ajpm-online.net).

Analyzing information that was collected during the decade from 1991 to 2001, the researchers compared patient self-reports of mammography obtained as part of the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System and the National Health Interview Study with national Medicare data on mammography. The self-reported data suggested that 70% to 80% of women aged 65 to 69 years received at least 1 mammogram every 2 years, whereas the Medicare data revealed that only 61.1% of women in this age group actually received regular screening. When broken down by ethnicity, rates were 64.5% for white, 53.5% for black, 46.0% for Asian American, and 47.5% for Hispanic women. In analyses adjusted for factors such as health status, access to care, education, and income, the screening rates for the nonwhite women were substantially lower than that for white women. The authors caution, however, that the definitions of Hispanic and Asian American ethnicities are less reliable than those for white or black ethnicity in the Medicare data set.