Patients outline different experiences at cancer centers, mobile mammography sites

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A recent study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology found significant differences between women who receive their mammography at a cancer center as opposed to those visiting a mobile mammography site.

Mobile mammography units have been used by health systems as a method to expand market share—specifically with underserved populations—but little research has been done comparing mobilke units to cancer centers in regards to patient characteristics and demographics.

The researchers, led by Elizabeth Stanley of the Medical University of South Carolina, conducted the retrospective study and analyzed 1,433 examinations from a mobile unit and 1,434 from a cancer center.

Variables including BI-RADS assessment, adherence to follow-up, biopsies performed, cancer detection rate and sociodemographic were recorded. Age, health insurance, race, marital status, geographic area, adherence to screening guidelines, recall rate and adherence to follow-up were also recorded.

“In addition to the breast cancer health care disparities that we already know exist, we found significant differences in patient characteristics and behaviors between patients using our cancer center versus our mobile mammography unit,” Stanley and colleagues wrote.

  • Patients visiting the mobile unit had an average age of 52.
  • Patients visiting the cancer center were older, with an average age of 57.
  • More uninsured patients were screened at the mobile unit.
  • More patients with Medicare were seen at the cancer center.
  • More black and Hispanic patients were screened at the mobile unit.
  • More married and widowed patients were screened at the cancer center.
  • Both locations reached more urban populations than rural.
  • The cancer center had a lower recall rate, and patients recalled by the mobile unit were less adherent.

“By identifying these characteristics, we can develop programs and materials that meet these populations’ specific needs and behaviors, ultimately increasing mammography screening rates and follow-up among underserved populations,” the authors wrote.