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Am J Public Health. 2010 Sep;100(9):1769-76. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.160184. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Timeliness of breast cancer diagnosis and initiation of treatment in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, 1996-2005.

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  • 1National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop K-55, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.



To determine the effects of program policy changes, we examined service delivery benchmarks for breast cancer screening in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).


We analyzed NBCCEDP data for women with abnormal mammogram or clinical breast examination (n=382 416) from which 23 701 cancers were diagnosed. We examined time to diagnosis and treatment for 2 time periods: 1996 to 2000 and 2001 to 2005. We compared median time for diagnostic, treatment initiation, and total intervals with the Kruskal-Wallis test. We calculated adjusted proportions (predicted marginals) with logistic regression to examine diagnosis and treatment within program benchmarks (<or=60 days) and time from screening to treatment (<or=120 days).


Median diagnostic intervals decreased by 2 days (25 vs 23; P<.001). Median treatment initiation intervals increased by 2 days (12 vs 14; P<.001). Total intervals decreased by 3 days (43 vs 40; P<.001). Women meeting the 60-day benchmark for diagnosis improved the most for women with normal mammograms and abnormal clinical breast examinations from 77% to 82%.


Women screened by the NBCCEDP received diagnostic follow-up and initiated treatment within preestablished program guidelines.

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