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Campaign Launched to Improve Awareness of Mammography

Campaign Launched to Improve Awareness of Mammography

WASHINGTON—President Clinton, with Mrs. Clinton joining him, highlighted a three-pronged effort to ensure that women over age 40 have information about and access to regular and high-quality mammograms. The Clintons spoke during one of the President’s regular Saturday morning radio broadcasts.

The steps include a new Mammography Education Campaign at the National Cancer Institute (NCI); new public service announcements as part of the First Lady’s National Annual Medicare Mammography Campaign designed to encourage older women covered by Medicare to get mammograms; and the final FDA regulations establishing higher standards for mammography facilities.

The NCI education campaign is designed to inform women about the NCI’s recommendation that women over age 40 receive screening mammograms every 1 to 2 years. The program grew out of in-depth interviews and focus groups conducted by the NCI. These revealed that many women are not aware that the risk of breast cancer increases with age or that most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.

Materials include a comprehensive breast health booklet—“Understanding Breast Changes: The Facts About Breast Cancer and Mammograms”—that describes the benefits and limitations of mammography and the risk factors for breast cancer.

A second publication, “Mammograms . . . Not just Once, but for a Lifetime,” explains the importance of regular screening for women age 40 and older.

The new brochures are available by calling NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or by visiting NCI’s website at http://rex.nci.nih.gov and clicking on “About Mammograms.”

Other elements in the education campaign include breast cancer and mammography fact sheets and posters. The educational materials will be released to community groups, physicians, and health care facilities around the country. Materials for physicians include “Why Get a Mammogram,” a pad with tear-off fact sheets for patients.

“These publications will reach thousands of women with a simple message: Mammograms are available, effective and safe, and they can save your life,” President Clinton said.

Public Service Announcements

The public service announcements in the First Lady’s campaign are aimed at the 45% of women over age 65 who have not had a mammogram in the last 2 years.

The need for the campaign is backed up by the first report of the Health Care Financing Administration’s Horizon Project Grants, a 3-year initiative to increase mammography rates among Hispanic and African-American Medicare beneficiaries.

The report identifies barriers that prevent minority women from getting mammograms, including a lack of awareness about the Medicare mammography benefit, language barriers, and misconceptions that breast cancer is only a risk for women of childbearing age.

Mammography Standards

The final FDA standards, authorized by the Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992, strengthen interim regulations put in place in 1994. The new regulations “will ensure that medical facilities, health providers, and detection equipment are all held to the highest possible standards so that every woman gets the quality care she needs when she needs it most,” President Clinton said.

The regulations clarify training requirements for technologists, and establish FDA inspections of mammography facilities, which are required to use equipment that will produce clear and accurate images. Patients must be fully informed of their mammography results, and facilities must have an acceptable mechanism in place to deal with patient complaints.

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