Improvements in breast cancer screening

A woman receiving a breast cancer screening

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast used to check for breast cancer, the second most deadly cancer in women.1 Mammograms can find cancer early, sometimes up to three years before a woman or her doctor can feel a lump2, and more than 90% of these early-stage cancers can be cured.3

In 1987, only 27% of women 50 and older reported having a mammogram in the previous two years.4 Today, 72% of women 50 and older report having a mammogram in the last two years.5 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), sponsored by HRSA, also experienced improvements in breast cancer screening rates. The number of women getting screened at FQHCs increased from 63% in 1995 to 76% in 2002.6

Beginning in 2002, HRSA sponsored targeted efforts to increase screening rates for breast cancer as well as colon and cervical cancers. A 2005 study found that breast cancer deaths in the United States have dropped about 10% because of mammography screening.7 Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, most insurance companies must now cover breast cancer screening at no cost to women over 40.

In 1990, only half of women 50 and older reported having a mammogram in the past two years. Today, 73% of women 50 and older report having a mammogram in the last 2 years., A 2005 study found that breast cancer deaths in the United States dropped about 10% because of mammography screening.

In 1990, Congress directed the CDC to create the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). Since 1991, NBCCEDP-funded programs have:

  • Served 4.4 million low-income, uninsured, and underserved women
  • Provided 11 million breast and cervical cancer screening examinations
  • Diagnosed 59,457 breast cancers

In 1992, Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act. By October 1, 1994, all mammography facilities were certified by the FDA, ensuring American women nationwide have access to quality mammography services.

Sources

  1. NIH, NCI, A Snapshot of Breast Cancer
  2. CDC, What Is a Mammogram and When Should I Get One?
  3. NIH, NCI, Cancer of the Breast - SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Breast Cancer
  4. CDC, Table 82 (page 1 of 3)
  5. CDC, Cancer Screening – United States, 2010
  6. HRSA, Breast Cancer Screening
  7. HRSA, Breast Cancer Screening