Mammogram study

July 16, 2009 3:41:18 PM PDT
Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer and regular screenings can reduce deaths by about 30-percent. Yet many women still fail to get regular screenings. Now, a new study has found a way to help solve the problem. A few years ago a study revealed one in three women over the age of 40 have not had a mammogram in over two years or have never had one. There are many complex reasons why women don't get mammograms and researchers are now trying to understand why in order to change that behavior.

The mammogram recommendations for women over 40 are to get a mammogram every one to two years. Women with a family history might need to start earlier or be extra consistent. But unfortunately, many women forego this recommendation. Carroll Glaus was one of them.

"I was really surprised because I truly thought I went every year around November for a mammogram. I truly did not think I had forgotten one," said Carroll.

Luckily for Carroll, her health care provider reminded her first with a postcard then a telephone call and that call prompted Carroll to make an appointment that may have saved her life.

"The doctor called me back and said yes it is cancer, we're going to schedule you for a lumpectomy," she said.

Carroll was part of a study that found postcards, phone messages and live telephone calls boosted screening rates from 63 to 80-percent.

"If we could apply these findings nationally, then we could detect as many as 25,000 additional early cancers when they can be successfully treated," said Dr. Adrianne Feldstein with Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research.

But many women can't rely on a reminder from their doctor. But reminders whether from other family members, friends or oneself, may be necessary to help a each woman do the right thing for herself.

"It certainly is important to at least write it on your calendar so you at least have a trigger," said Dr. Feldstein.

Women at a higher risk for breast cancer should start screenings earlier and be tested more often. It's best to talk to your doctor to help determine your own risk and then ask friends and family to help you remember to make the appointment.