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Mapping Medicare’s Mammogram Numbers

September 17, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Medicare patients are most conscientious about getting regular mammograms in Traverse City, Michigan, and least conscientious in Chicago. So says the latest Dartmouth Atlas Project report.

Such reports emerge periodically from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Dartmouth College in Lebanon, New Hampshire. This one examines, among many other things, the percentage of female Medicare beneficiaries age 67–69 who received at least one mammogram over a two-year period from 2003 through 2007. The percentages ranged from 76.1 percent in Traverse City to 50.1 percent in Chicago and stayed almost flat during the time period. The overall average was 63.2 percent.

The accompanying map is fascinating. It shows the percentages plotted across the United States according to Medicare’s “hospital referral regions.” The highest percentages run in bands across the upper Midwest, the Northeast, and, to a lesser extent, the Mid-Atlantic. The lowest percentages are concentrated in a rectangle across the lower middle of the country from New Mexico through Mississippi and centered on Texas. Also low: the New York City metropolitan area and much of Southern California.

African-Americans were 13 percent less likely to have received at least one mammogram within a two-year period, says the report, “but the differences between blacks and whites varied from place to place; and the difference in screening rates across hospital referral regions was greater than the racial disparities within regions.”

In other breast cancer-related news:

  • Chronic stress significantly accelerates the spread of breast cancer in mice, according to researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Alarmingly, stress reprograms macrophage immune cells, changing them from cancer fighters to helpers in the spread of cancer to other areas in the body. The study was published Wednesday in the journal Cancer Research.
  • On the other hand, a compound found in the plant watercress may be able to suppress breast cancer cell development by “turning off” the function of a protein that helps to feed the cancer cells, say researchers from the University of Southampton in England. The research has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition. A spokesman for the Watercress Alliance, which funded the research, pronounced himself to be “very excited.” No doubt.

Related seminar: Breast & Women’s Imaging Seminar

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