Presence of MQSA facilities correlates with lower breast cancer mortality rates

Using sophisticated mapping technology, census data, and state cancer registry statistics, researchers from Georgia established a link between the presence of Mammography Quality Standards Act-certified mammography centers and lower death rates from breast cancer.

Using sophisticated mapping technology, census data, and state cancer registry statistics, researchers from Georgia established a link between the presence of Mammography Quality Standards Act-certified mammography centers and lower death rates from breast cancer.

The study was presented Wednesday as part of a session on evidence-based practice and won an RSNA trainee research award for the chief researcher, Dr. Kandace R. Klein from the University of Georgia.

Using ArcGIS 9 software and relying on data from the 2000 census, FDA, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health, the investigators made comparisons between Georgia county populations, locations of MQSA-certified mammography facilities, and breast cancer mortality rates. The goal was to determine whether there is a relationship between breast cancer mortality and the number of MQSA-certified mammography facilities in Georgia, county by county.

Breast cancer mortality rates have been calculated for only 58 of 159 counties in Georgia because the rest had fewer than 20 breast cancer deaths.

In the four counties with calculated mortality rates and no MQSA-certified facilities, the average breast cancer mortality rate was 34.1%, Klein said. This compares with 25.4% for Georgia as a whole and 25.5% for the nation.

Among the 19 counties with a calculated mortality rate and only one qualified mammography site, the average mortality rate was 27.5%. The county with the most MQSA sites had a 27.9% breast cancer mortality rate.

As a rule, counties without MQSA facilities tended to be rural and those with multiple facilities tended to be more urban, Klein said. A key message for practice is that if MQSA facilities are available and women go for screening, breast cancer mortality will decrease, she said.

The study does have some limitations. Among them were the inability to factor in the presence of mobile mammography scanning facilities and the possibility that women crossed county lines, Klein said. Next steps in the research will be to factor in more demographic data such as age, income, and number of persons per household.