More women are falling behind on breast cancer screenings, study shows

SACRAMENTO — A simple mammogram can be life-saving. The problem is that not enough women are getting them.

Dr. Debra Houry, the chief medical officer of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said about 40,000 women die each year from breast cancer and having these screening mammograms can save lives.

A new CDC Vital Signs study found that only about 65% of women ages 50-74, with three or more health-related social needs, are up to date with their mammograms. Social needs can include things like food insecurity or lack of access to reliable transportation.

“It’s really important to address these needs now,” Dr. Houry said. “When doctors are meeting with a patient, they can screen women for these needs and then connect them to community services.”

The good news is that in the Sacramento region, places like UC Davis are reaching out to the community. Dr. Shadi Shakeri is the breast imaging division chief at UC Davis Health and said they are working on providing mobile mammograms.

“We are developing a Mammovan program to address exactly this type of problem,” Dr. Shakeri said. “We want to go and deliver this type of service to women in areas that have no access or low access – rural areas – for women who have low access to transportation.”

While death rates from breast cancer have decreased, they remain high for Black women and women with low incomes. Federal health officials are encouraging all women not to delay their mammograms.

“For women, breast cancer is the most common cancer behind skin cancer,” Dr. Shakeri said. “And it’s the second killer due to cancer in women.”

It’s estimated about 22% of breast cancer deaths can be reduced by early screening and treatment.

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