The findings suggest that as women stop seeing their doctor for hormone therapy prescriptions, physicians no longer have as much opportunity to remind their patients about the importance of mammograms and when their next one is due.
Mammography rates had been steadily increasing every year since 1987, but suddenly in 2005, the rate fell for the first time. The authors of the study concluded that this drop might be linked to a fall in hormone therapy use. Current users tended to have higher mammography rates, which could be attributed to their doctors ordering screening mammography tests for their patients during their annual visit to renew their hormone therapy prescription.
The use of hormone therapy plummeted dramatically between 2000 and 2005 after findings from a research programme, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, linked the treatment with breast cancer.
The recent study from the National Cancer Institute looked at whether a drop in the use of hormone therapy directly correlated with a decline in mammography rates. This was done by analysing data from the 2000 and 2005 National Health Interview Surveys.
The sample of 7,125 women in 2000 and 7,387 in 2005 allowed researchers to analyse receipt of mammography within two years of the interview, race-ethnicity, immigrant status, medical or health insurance, usual source of medical care, health status and current use of hormone therapy.
It was discovered that women aged between 50 and 64 years old were more likely to have had a recent mammogram if they were well educated, had a usual source of care, held private health insurance, were in contact with a gynaecologist or currently used hormone therapy treatment.
A spokesperson said that the research “corroborates that a doctor’s recommendation is an important step in getting a mammogram”.
View the original Health Imaging article here.