Adult women show a strong awareness of the threat of breast cancer, but many still are failing to take the suggested preventative health measures to detect the disease at its earliest stages when it is most treatable. In fact, nearly half (49.6 percent) of women aged 40 and older say they do not receive an annual mammogram as recommended by the American Cancer Society.
These were the primary findings of a recent online survey of more than 680 women conducted by Eastman Kodak Co.’s Health Group and Zoomerang in December 2006.
A large percentage of women indicate they are aware of the significant threat breast cancer poses and the frequency with which they should receive a mammogram examination, but cite a number of reasons as to why they do not. More than 37 percent of women say they do not know how often they should have a mammogram based on their age and risk level. Of those that do know how often they should have a mammogram examination, 32 percent said they do not follow the recommended timeframes. The biggest reasons for not following these recommendations include lack of medical insurance (19 percent), followed by not considering it a high priority (15 percent) and not believing they are at risk (12 percent).
“Regular screening is important, and these data suggest that there is a significant gap between the recognized threat of breast cancer and actually getting annual mammograms,” said Dr. Richard Hirsh, staff radiologist at Summa Health System and assistant professor of radiology at North Eastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.
“It is important that the health care professionals understand that uncertainty about how frequently women should get mammograms may contribute to irregular screening, and take steps to be sure their patients are informed about the importance of annual mammograms.” he said.
The survey also revealed that 37 percent of women perceive technology to be the number one factor in receiving a high quality mammogram, and that 59 percent of women said they would be willing to travel a farther distance for a digital exam, even though digital mammography technology has not been shown to offer an advantage over conventional mammography for women with average breast density.
“The single most important factor in reaping the benefits from mammography screening,” explains Dr. Hirsh, “is that women receive regular, annual mammograms. This is more important than the particular technology used.”