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Mammography facilities serving vulnerable women have longer follow-up times.

  • Author(s): Karliner, Leah S
  • Kaplan, Celia
  • Livaudais-Toman, Jennifer
  • Kerlikowske, Karla
  • et al.


To investigate mammography facilities' follow-up times, population vulnerability, system-based processes, and association with cancer stage at diagnosis.

Data sources

Prospectively collected from San Francisco Mammography Registry (SFMR) 2005-2011, California Cancer Registry 2005-2012, SFMR facility survey 2012.

Study design

We examined time to biopsy for 17 750 abnormal mammogram results (BI-RADS 4/5), categorizing eight facilities as short or long follow-up based on proportion of mammograms with biopsy at 30 days. We examined facility population vulnerability (race/ethnicity, language, education), and system processes. Among women with a cancer diagnosis, we modeled odds of advanced-stage (≥IIb) cancer diagnosis by facility follow-up group.

Data extraction methods

Merged SFMR, Cancer Registry and facility survey data.

Principal findings

Facilities (N = 4) with short follow-up completed biopsies by 30 days for 82% of mammograms compared with 62% for facilities with long follow-up (N = 4) (P < 0.0001). All facilities serving high proportions of vulnerable women were long follow-up facilities. The long follow-up facilities had fewer radiologists, longer biopsy appointment wait times, and less communication directly with women. Having the index abnormal mammogram at a long follow-up facility was associated with higher adjusted odds of advanced-stage cancer (OR 1.45; 95% CI 1.10-1.91).


Providing mammography facilities serving vulnerable women with appropriate resources may decrease disparities in abnormal mammogram follow-up and cancer diagnosis stage.

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