High Risk Women Don’t Follow Mammography Recommendations

September 2, 2015

Despite increase in referrals for mammography screening for high-risk women, actual screening numbers did not increase significantly.

Mammography screening numbers do not increase even after patients are told that they are at higher risk for breast cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from Penn State Hershey Breast Center and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA, undertook a study to determine the effectiveness of introducing a standardized recommendation into mammography reports in order to recruit women who had a 20% or higher lifetime risk for breast cancer.

The study included patients who were screened in 2011 and 2013. The researchers reviewed the charts for annotations in the mammography reports addressing the patients' risk status and referral to a provider at the clinic.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"41000","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7593375620072","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4259","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 85px; width: 100px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Sam72/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The results showed that 173 patients in 2011 and 241 patients in 2013 fell into this high risk target group. In 2011, 40.5% of the women were given a recommendation to attend the risk assessment clinic, while 75.5% were recommended to in 2013. “Despite the overall increase in such recommendations by radiologists, only a modest increase occurred, from 11.4 percent to 14.3 percent, in patients that subsequently attended our risk assessment clinic,” the authors wrote.

The researchers concluded that even though physicians made more recommendations for screening to women at high risk of developing breast cancer, the actual number of screenings did not increase.