A recent study showed Utah to be among the five lowest states in the nation for mammography screening rates.
Breast cancer is one of the most commonly occurring cancers among U.S. women and the primary cause of cancer death among women in Utah.1 Yet, research has found that deaths from breast cancer can be substantially reduced if the tumor is discovered early, and mammography screening is the most effective method for the early detection. However, despite the advantages of mammography screening for reducing mortality, not all women receive screening according to recommended guidelines, and screening rates remain low among certain sub-populations of women. This is also true in Utah.
Mammography by the Numbers
Although the state incidence rate for female breast cancer in 2013 was below the national average (111.0 vs. 123.7 per 100,000),5 Utah’s relatively low level of early screening remains a concern. The current recommendation made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2016 calls for the use of screening mammography for breast cancer every two years in women aged 50–74 years, with additional guidance for certain women (those aged 40–49 years who have a higher potential benefit from early screening) to choose biennial screening.
Factors Contributing to Nonadherence
Numerous factors come into play regarding whether or not women are likely to follow recommended guidelines for mammography, including disagreements among varying agencies about the guidelines themselves, as well as educational, financial, and other concerns. Recommendations for breast cancer screening rely on a combination of factors, including evidence about the risk of the condition, the benefits and harms of screening, and the cost of care. 15 Screening guidelines have changed over time and depend upon the recommending organization. As mentioned previously, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every two years starting at age 50, with additional guidelines for those aged 40–49 years. The
American Cancer Society, on the other hand, recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer should undergo regular screening mammography starting at age 45 (annually until age 54, and biannually thereafter).
Efforts to Address Mammography in Utah
The Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN) has identified a number of strategies to help meet the Utah 2020 target for breast cancer screenings:
• Encourage the public to receive recommended cancer screenings by providing education using evidence-based communication methods,
• Decrease the structural and financial barriers to cancer screenings,
• Increase the number of patients who receive recommended cancer screenings in health care settings through evidence-based strategies and policy change, and
• Encourage employers to implement policies that increase recommended cancer screenings among employees.
Read the full Snapshot Mammography Among Utah Women