News | Mammography | August 31, 2015

National Poll Finds Majority of Women in Favor of Annual Mammogram

Responses suggest U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation for biannual screenings still being absorbed by the public

Truven Health Analytics, NPR, health poll, annual mammogram, women, USPSTF

August 31, 2015 — Fifty-seven percent of American women believe they should receive a mammogram annually, according to the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued guidance earlier this year which suggested that women should get a mammogram every two years starting at age 50, provided they do not have a family history or find a lump.

Truven Health Analytics and NPR conduct a bimonthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues. The latest survey asked respondents to share their views and experiences with mammograms. The results found that 38 percent of American women have had a mammogram in the last year. Among women who did not undergo the screening in the past year, various reasons were given for why. The most frequently cited (24 percent) was that they were either too old, too young or the test did not apply to them. Among those citing age, most were outside the USPSTF target group, with just 1.6 percent within that 50-74 age range.

Other reasons cited for foregoing the screening included “do not need one” (15 percent), “doctor did not recommend,” (12 percent) “no time,” (10 percent) and “elected not to have” (9 percent).

“The proper evaluation and treatment of localized breast cancer is an area of active research. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends biennial breast cancer screening with mammography in all average risk women between the ages of 50-74,” said Michael Taylor, M.D., chief medical officer at Truven Health Analytics. “With the Affordable Care Act mandating that insurers provide screening mammograms at no additional charge, patients have no reason not to be diligent about receiving a regular screening.”

Twelve percent of respondents said they believe the screening is only necessary every two years, as recommended by the USPSTF; more than half (57 percent) said they think they should undergo a mammogram annually. These results suggest the new guidelines have not yet been fully absorbed by the general public. Overall, 48 percent of respondents said they were aware of the ACA provision that requires mammograms for no additional charge.

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