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Med Care. 2010 Apr;48(4):349-56. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3181ca3ecb.

Geographic access and the use of screening mammography.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.



Screening mammography rates vary geographically and have recently declined. Inadequate mammography resources in some areas may impair access to this technology. We assessed the relationship between availability of mammography machines and the use of screening.


The location and number of all mammography machines in the United States were identified from US Food and Drug Administration records of certified facilities. Inadequate capacity was defined as <1.2 mammography machines per 10,000 women age 40 or older, the threshold required to meet the Healthy People 2010 target screening rate. The impact of capacity on utilization was evaluated in 2 cohorts: female respondents age 40 or older to the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS) and a 5% nationwide sample of female Medicare beneficiaries age 65 or older in 2004-2005.


About 9% of women in the BRFSS cohort and 13% of women in the Medicare cohort lived in counties with <1.2 mammography machines per 10,000 women age 40 or older. In both cohorts, residence in a county with inadequate mammography capacity was associated with lower odds of a recent mammogram (adjusted odds ratio in BRFSS: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.80-0.98, P < 0.05; adjusted odds ratio in Medicare: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.85-0.87, P < 0.05), controlling for demographic and health care characteristics.


In counties with few or no mammography machines, limited availability of imaging resources may be a barrier to screening. Efforts to increase the number of machines in low-capacity areas may improve mammography rates and reduce geographic disparities in breast cancer screening.

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