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Outpatients who had a follow-up mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI of the breast within 45 days after a screening mammogram

Description of Measure

A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast to check for possible breast cancer before it can be detected by women or health care professionals.

Why is this Important?

Although mammography is a good test, it is not perfect. Some women who do not have breast cancer will have an abnormal mammogram (even though they are cancer free) and some women with breast cancer will have a normal screening mammogram (their cancer is missed).

Some women may be asked to come back for follow-up testing if there are signs of possible breast cancer. A follow-up visit usually means having more tests (mammograms, an ultrasound, or both). The numbers of women asked to follow-up varies widely among mammography facilities in the United States.

There are many reasons for differences in follow-up rates including poor technique (blurry X-rays that need to be repeated), a lack of skill or experience interpreting the screening mammograms, medical history of the woman undergoing screening, and whether a woman is being screened for the first time, or has previously undergone mammography screening.

The follow-up rates reported here for mammography facilities include follow-up exams performed on the same day as screening mammograms.

Medical evidence suggests that there may be a problem if a facility has either a very low or very high rate of follow-ups.

  • Although, values for a very low follow-up rate have not been established, a follow-up rate near zero may indicate a facility that misses signs of cancer. Follow up rates around 9% are typical.
  • Research has established that a follow-up rate above 14 percent is not appropriate and may indicate a facility doing unnecessary follow-up.

If you have a screening mammogram and you are called back for additional testing, ask your doctor why and what this additional testing means in your case for how he or she makes an accurate diagnosis.

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All descriptions and data sources are reported from Hospital Compare.

Data reported are based on discharges from Third Quarter 2012 through Second Quarter 2013

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