Personal Reminders Seem to Boost Mammography Rates09/03/14
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Reminder letters
signed by family doctors improve the chances that women who are
overdue for mammography will return for the breast cancer
screening, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at nearly 5,400 women, ages 52 to 74, in
British Columbia, Canada, who had normal results on a prior
screening mammography and were overdue for another screening by 30
to 48 months.
The women were sent either standard postcard reminders or
postcard reminders along with a letter signed by their family
doctor. Within six months, 33 percent of women who received the
postcard/signed letter had returned for screening, compared to 22
percent of women who received the postcard only.
The study also found that women who had more than one prior
screening mammography were 2.2 times more likely to return for
screening than those who had just one previous screening.
Women who were less overdue for screening (30 to 36 months) were
2.4 times more likely to return for screening than those who were
more overdue (42 to 48 months), according to the study. The
findings are scheduled for presentation Thursday at the American
Society of Clinical Oncology's breast cancer symposium in San
"For screening mammography to be effective, women have to come for their screening appointments at the recommended intervals," lead author Dr. Elisa Chan said in a society news release.
"This study shows that for women who are overdue, even though we've sent them reminder postcards, a very simple intervention from their family physician can make a big difference in improving the overall screening mammography return rate," said Chan, who conducted the study while at the B.C. Cancer Agency in western Canada. She is now a radiation oncologist at Saint John Regional Hospital in New Brunswick and an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Doctor-signed reminder letters may be effective because women
typically have a trusting and long-term relationship with their
family doctor, said Chan, who noted this approach takes less time
and resources than other methods such as telephone reminders.
Efforts to boost breast cancer screening detection rates often
focus on advances in imaging technology, noted Dr. Julie White, one
of the symposium planners. "In contrast, this study highlights how
detection by screening may be improved by simply using a reminder
to women with a more personal touch," she said in the news
Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
breast cancer screening.
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