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Mammograms on the Rise, But Elderly Women Over-Report

Non-white women also have fewer mammograms than whites

MONDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- While mammogram screening among elderly women has increased, the women report having more mammograms than they actually do, and non-white women are screened less often than their white counterparts, according to a study published online July 7 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Christopher R. Kagay, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues used Medicare data to construct a representative 5 percent sample of elderly women in 11 areas, comprising 146,669 women total.

From 1991 to 2001, the proportion of women 65 years and older who underwent mammography screening at least every two years rose from 35.8 percent to 47.9 percent. However, the most widely cited estimates, derived from self-reported data collected by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, are as high as 80 percent for women who are 65 to 69 years old.

Increases in screening failed to narrow the disparity between different racial and ethnic groups. In 2000-2001, while 50.6 percent of non-Hispanic white women were screened at least every two years, the figure was only 40.5 percent for blacks, 34.7 percent for Asian Americans, 36.3 percent for Hispanics and 12.5 percent for Native Americans.

"Self-reported studies of mammography screening had suggested that there were no significant differences in screening frequency by race -- our study found just the opposite," Kagay said in a statement.

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