Today, breast cancer survivors in the United States are more than 4 million strong. That’s real progress compared to just a few decades ago. Undoubtedly, many of these women are alive today thanks to a mammogram that led to early detection.
While mammography screening remains the gold standard, in recent years there has been debate about who should get a mammogram and how often.
For some time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended women begin annual mammography screening at age 50. In May 2023, the USPSTF issued a draft recommendation statement that all women should be screened for breast cancer every other year—instead of annually—and starting at age 40 until age 75.
Many experts agree that beginning screenings at age 40 is a smart move that can save even more lives. However, some believe the recommendations don’t go far enough and that an annual exam is still the best course for women age 40 and older.
By lowering the start age, the latest USPSTF recommendations will likely help catch more cancers sooner. That is, they will if women 40-plus years old follow through with their exams. Providers can help make that happen. Family physicians and OB-GYNs can do their part by encouraging younger women to get their screenings.
But it’s imperative for imaging facilities and mammography practices to take action as well to help ensure women are aware of the new recommendations. Here are some ways healthcare organizations can help boost patient mammography adherence pre-, during, and post-appointment:
- Before the appointment—improve patient awareness and engagement: Fujifilm’s Synapse® EIS workflow management system offers built-in pre-registration tools for patients, such as automated notifications and appointment reminders as well as online pre-screening questionnaires and form completion. These features can help enhance patient engagement and empower them to follow through with their mammography appointments, both now and in the future.
- During the exam—ensure physical and emotional comfort: My colleague Christine Murray, senior product manager for Women’s Health at Fujifilm, recently noted in Diagnostic Imaging, “Time and again, studies have shown that many women skip exams due to a host of fears, including fear of pain, fear of receiving bad news, or anxiety over being told they need an additional procedure such as a biopsy.” Thankfully, the latest techniques and technologies can help alleviate these anxieties. Instill in your technicians the importance of kindness and compassion while performing an exam. Similarly, having the right equipment installed can also make a world of a difference for patients. Fujifilm’s ASPIRE Cristalle for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), for example, provides a patented Comfort Paddle that conforms to the natural shape of the breast. This helps improve patient comfort, image quality, and future exam adherence.
- Post-exam—empower your patients: Even with the best technicians and technology, patients can still feel like a mammogram is out of their control. However, continuing to provide a highly engaged imaging experience post-appointment can put the power back in the patient’s hands. Consider a solution that proactively notifies patients when results are available and provides 24/7 access to reports right in their patient portal. It’s these types of self-management features that can make patients feel like they’re a part of their own care and encourage them to continue with regular mammograms for years to come.
Are you attending RSNA 2023, and would you like to learn more about how Fujifilm’s solutions can help boost mammography adherence in your practice? Sign up for our Women’s Health Workflow tour to see how our extensive imaging and informatics technologies can support practices and patients throughout the entire exam experience.