New research conducted by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and published online Monday in the journal Cancer suggests a link between the dramatic decline in women's use of hormone therapy mid-decade and a decline in mammograms.
"We found that women in the age group 50 to 64 reduced their hormone therapy use from 41% down to 16% between 2000 and 2005," writes Nancy Breen, an economist with the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the lead author of the study. "At the same time, that age group dropped their mammogram use from 78% to 73%. And we found those two drops were associated."
In the report, Breen and her colleagues speculate that women are not submitting to mammograms as often because they are not returning to their doctors’ offices for hormone therapy prescriptions.
The use of hormone therapy dropped radically after a report from the Women's Health Initiative, published in 2002, demonstrated that hormone therapy use was linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. In 2005, mammography rates declined for the first time ever.
To investigate the possible link, Breen and her colleague used the National Health Interview Survey, the largest population-based national sample on mammography. Data on 7,125 women interviewed in 2000 and 7,387 women interviewed in 2005--all of whom were were 50 years of age or older—were analyzed.
According to the research, subjects between the ages of 50 and 64 were more likely to report a recent mammogram if they were still taking hormone therapy or had seen their doctor in the past 12 months. Other pertinent variables encompassed levels of insurance and education.
On an interesting note, the researchers discovered that a decrease in hormone therapy did not explain the mammography decline for women 65 and older.
To read the press release, click here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_115630.html