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March 9, 1994

Personalized Messages Invite More Mammography

JAMA. 1994;271(10):733-735. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510340019008

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TAILORED LETTERS and telephone calls may emerge as effective new weapons in the stepped-up fight against breast cancer.

The tactics can't come quickly enough. New national figures show that more women past age 40 have received mammograms in recent years, but most still are not routinely screened. Conflicting guidelines don't help. Many physicians now question what constitutes "routine" screening, so experts say it's increasingly important to discuss mammography, along with breast self-examination, with patients.

And even though family physicians may be trying to prompt more women to have mammograms, experts attribute low screening rates to high-risk patients being cared for by specialists who overlook the need for mammography.

Patterns in Mammography  From 1987 to 1990, the number of women older than age 40 who received a mammogram in the past year nearly doubled, from 17% to 33%, according to figures compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.

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