Mammogram rate drops slightly in United States

A slight drop in the rate of women getting mammograms in the United States is worrying, and might suggest it is becoming difficult to get one, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

CDC researchers found that while 76.4 percent of women over 40 got mammograms in 2000, just 74.6 percent did in 2005.

“Because mammography screening every one to two years can significantly reduce mortality from breast cancer, continued declines in mammography use might result in increased breast cancer mortality rates,” the researchers wrote in the CDC’s weekly report on death and disease.

“The reason for the apparent decline in screening mammography is unclear and might be attributable to a combination of factors,” they added.

“One study has indicated that breast-imaging facilities face challenges such as shortages of key personnel, malpractice concerns, and financial constraints,” they wrote.

The CDC researchers used a regular national survey of health-related behavior for the study.

“Because the number of U.S. women aged more than 40 years increased by more than 24 million during 1990 to 2000, the number of available facilities and trained breast specialists might not be sufficient to meet the needs of the population, whose overall median age continues to increase,” the researchers wrote.

Breast cancer will be found in 180,510 men and women in 2007 in the United States alone and will kill 40,900, according to the American Cancer Society. Globally, it affects 1.2 million people a year.

“Screening mammography can reduce mortality from breast cancer by approximately 20 percent to 35 percent in women aged 50 to 69 years and approximately 20 percent in women aged 40 to 49 years,” the CDC report said.

Various groups recommend that women over the age of 40 get regular mammograms at least every three years, with some recommending one every year.
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