News | February 04, 2011

Study Finds Obesity, Age Are Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening

February 4, 2011 – Obese women may avoid mammograms because of pain and women under 60 may avoid the test because they are too busy, according to a study in the Journal of Women’s Health. The study, by Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research was one of the largest to examine why insured women fail to complete mammograms.

It was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, with one in eight developing breast cancer during their lifetimes, and 46,000 dying from it annually. Although regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by more than 30 percent – and screenings are recommended every 1 to 2 years beginning at age 50 – nearly one-third of eligible women do not get regular screenings.

"These are important findings because, even though we know that mammograms can save lives, many women put them off," said Adrianne Feldstein, M.D., a senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research and lead author on the study. "Our study found that, even when women have access to health care, there are still barriers to getting this important screening test. We need to do more to understand these barriers and help women overcome them."

The study looked at 4,708 women aged 50-69 at Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Washington who had gone longer than 20 months since their last mammogram and were reminded through postcards and phone calls that they would soon be due for the test. Researchers identified these women by looking at their medical records, which contained the date of their last mammogram. Researchers also examined physical and demographic information – including height and weight, age, race, length of time on the health plan and family income – to find out how these factors affected mammogram completion rates.

Characteristics associated with lower mammogram completion rates included being younger than 60, having a household income of less than $40,000, being obese and having had health insurance coverage for fewer than five years.

A subset of 677 women were mailed a survey asking why they hadn't completed their mammograms. About half – 340 – of these women completed the survey. The reasons they cited most often for not completing a mammogram included the test causing too much pain, being too busy and feeling embarrassed to have the test.

Nearly one-quarter of the women surveyed (24.7 percent) reported too much pain as a reason why they had not completed a mammogram. Obese women were nearly twice as likely as non-obese women to report pain as a deterrent (31 percent vs. 19 percent).

"We don't know why obese women report more pain with mammograms," Feldstein said. "One previous study suggests that obesity might be associated with a lower pain threshold. Nearly half of the women in our study were obese and obese women are more likely to get breast cancer so we need to find better ways to ensure that these women are screened."

Authors point out that their study has implications for helping health care systems reduce barriers to mammogram completion. Since obese women reported receiving the same amount of advice to get screened as non-obese women, and did not report feeling more embarrassed to get mammograms, it's unlikely that they would respond to more clinician-oriented interventions. The authors suggest that patient-controlled compression or the use of alternate screening technologies could be especially helpful to obese women.

Women under 60 were more likely to report being too busy to get a mammogram (19 percent vs. 6 percent). Authors say that younger women might be more likely to complete mammograms if health-care systems provided more opportunities for worksite screening and after-hours mammography appointments.

For more information: www.kaiserpermanente.org/

Related Content

Videos | Mammography | December 10, 2018
Stamatia Destounis, M.D., FACR, associate professor, University of Rochester School of Medicine, and attending radiol
Youth Football Changes Nerve Fibers in Brain

Statistically significant clusters (red-colored) showing group differences (Control vs. Football) in white matter strain along the primary (F1) and secondary (F2) fibers. While body of corpus callosum (BBC) showed relative shrinkage in Football group, the other clusters showed relative stretching of fibers. PCR: Posterior Corona Radiata, PLIC: Posterior Limb of Internal Capsule, SCR: Superior Corona Radiata, SLF: Superior Longitudinal Fasciculus, SCC: Splenium of Corpus Callosum. Image courtesy of Kim et al.

News | Neuro Imaging | December 07, 2018
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans show repetitive blows to the head result in brain changes among youth football...
FDA Clears iCAD's ProFound AI for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
Technology | Mammography | December 07, 2018
iCAD Inc. announced clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their latest, deep-learning, cancer...
Fujifilm Collaborates With Lunit on AI Pilot Project
News | Artificial Intelligence | December 05, 2018
Fujifilm Medical Systems USA Inc. announced a joint collaboration with Korean-based medical artificial intelligence (AI...
ScreenPoint Medical and Volpara Partner to Bring AI to Breast Imaging Clinics
News | Computer-Aided Detection Software | December 04, 2018
ScreenPoint Medical has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Volpara Health Technologies. Volpara will...
GE Healthcare Introduces Invenia ABUS 2.0
Technology | Ultrasound Women's Health | December 03, 2018
GE Healthcare recently launched the Invenia automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) 2.0 system in the United States. This...
Snoring Poses Greater Cardiac Risk to Women
News | Women's Health | November 29, 2018
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring may lead to earlier impairment of cardiac function in women than in men,...
ScreenPoint Medical Receives FDA Clearance for Transpara Mammography AI Solution
Technology | Computer-Aided Detection Software | November 28, 2018
November 28, 2018 — ScreenPoint Medical announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S.
Artificial Intelligence May Help Reduce Gadolinium Dose in MRI

Example of full-dose, 10 percent low-dose and algorithm-enhanced low-dose. Image courtesy of Enhao Gong, Ph.D.

News | Contrast Media | November 27, 2018
Researchers are using artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the dose of a contrast agent that may be left behind in...
Women Benefit From Mammography Screening Beyond Age 75
News | Mammography | November 26, 2018
Women age 75 years and older should continue to get screening mammograms because of the comparatively high incidence of...