Breast cancer awareness campaigns have done a lot to inform the public about the life-threatening dangers of breast cancer and the importance of fighting against it with self-examinations, yearly mammograms, and continued research.
For many women, the likelihood of surviving breast cancer comes down to when the cancer is detected. That is why annual mammograms are so often stressed for women over 45 — yet, despite the huge push for early detection methods, there are many factors that affect a women’s likelihood of getting a mammogram screening.
Factors Affecting Women’s Mammogram Screening Rates
One of the primary factors that affects screening rates is geography. In a study published online on July 17 in the American Journal of Roentgenology, researchers found that mammography screening services in the U.S. are lowest in rural counties. This finding also correlates with earlier research that showed that women in rural areas are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer than their counterparts living in metropolitan areas.
The study looked at County Health Rankings data from across the country and classified each area as Metropolitan or nonmetropolitan based on a scale of 1 to 9 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America categories, with large urban areas defined as more than 20,000 people and small urban areas as fewer than 20,000.
The findings showed the most disparity between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas within 9 states in particular.
Biggest Areas Of Disparity In Use Of Screening Mammography
The following 9 states showed the highest percentages of disparity in the use of screening mammography between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. The data also showed that small urban counties, just like rural counties, were also associated with low screening mammography uptake.
What Do Lower Mammogram Screening Rates Represent?
Studies like this one show the importance of continued breast cancer awareness campaigns and breast cancer education, particularly in rural areas and small urban counties. Additionally, this study also points to other possible underlying factors, such as a poor economy and little access to healthcare. These factors are very important in determining why women in rural and small urban counties are less likely to achieve early detection or even annual mammograms.
Being aware of your geographic location can be enlightening when trying to access regular health care. So, if you live in a nonmetropolitan area (or you’re thinking of moving to one), take some time to research the closest women’s imaging centers for your next mammogram. Bay Imaging Consultants Medical Group has hospital locations and outpatient clinics all over California. To book an appointment, contact us or find a location near you!