Breast cancer survivors aren't getting recommended mammograms

Volume 7, Issue 3, 2018


Post-surgery screening mammography rates miss the mark, especially for African-American women.

Kathryn J. Ruddy, M.D.

Kathryn J. Ruddy, M.D.

A new study led by Kathryn J. Ruddy, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, found that contrary to screening recommendations, mammography rates decline over time as women get further out from their breast cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Ruddy's mammography screening study found that African-American women in particular were less likely to receive the recommended amount of screening. The study about adherence to guidelines was published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

"Breast cancer survivors are not getting the recommended level of breast cancer screening, post-surgery," Dr. Ruddy said. "Our study looked at post-surgery mammography rates for women with health insurance. We found that even women who remained insured were less likely to meet that standard as they became long-term survivors."

The regular use of mammograms to detect breast cancer recurrence before any symptoms appear is associated with better overall survival, so clinicians need to make sure that patients are fully aware of the role of annual mammograms in screening for new breast cancer and for recurrences, Dr. Ruddy said. Creating and implementing survivorship care plans with clear follow-up instructions also may help physicians ensure that more survivors adhere to recommended screening schedules, she said.