Mobile Mammography May Be Critical for Screenings in American Indian Women

April 10, 2021
Whitney J. Palmer

The screening mammography non-adherence rate among American Indian women is 1.5 times that of the overall population.

Fewer than 40 percent of American Indian women adhere to regular screening mammography, a proportion vastly lower than the U.S. population of women from all races.

In a poster presentation during the Society of Breast Imaging/American College of Radiology 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting, Nicole Honey, a medical student from the University of Michigan Medical School revealed that only 38.7 percent of American Indian women were mammography adherent. And, reaching even this level could be difficult without the use of mobile mammography units.

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“This American Indian population is far below recommended rates of screening at recommended intervals,” she said in her poster, noting that, existing data shows 72.8 percent of women of all races have undergone screening mammography within the last two years. “Without mobile mammography, screening may be less.”

Honey based her research on the performance of an Indian Health Service mobile mammography unit that traveled more than 4,500 miles to provide screening services to 22 predominantly rural Indian Health Services clinics across four states between 2013 and 2017. She compared the adherence of American Indian women to screening data from the American College of Radiology National Mammography Database (NMD).

She defined adherence for both groups as a previous mammogram within 9 months to 27 months before the mobile mammography visit. Non-adherence was no previous mammogram or a prior scan from more than 27 months.

For the study, she included 1,616 American Indian women between ages 42 and 87, as well as 2,509,826 women between ages 42 and 80 from the NMD. According to her analysis, 625 American Indian women (38.7 percent) were adherent compared to the 1,481,021 women (59 percent) included in the NMD. Consequently, the non-adherence rate among American Indian women was 1.5 times that of NMD patients – 61.3 percent versus 41 percent, respectively.

In addition, she found that, among non-adherent women, more American Indian women than NMD women – 43.7 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively – had a prior mammogram more than 27 months before the study. Baseline mammogram rates were similar for both groups – 34.5 percent and 32.1 percent.

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