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Very few women receive regular breast cancer testing, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
The American Cancer Society has recommended that every woman over age 40 receive a yearly mammogram. However, the study's researchers found that only half of all women between the ages of 40 and 85 receive regular breast cancer testing, even when they have the insurance to pay for it.
For the study, researchers examined medical claims filed between 2006 and 2008. The database included information on more than 12 million people. They found that only 50 percent of women had ever had a mammogram at any point. Furthermore, only 60 percent had ever had more than one.
The researchers said that recent uproar about raising the recommended age for annual mammograms is difficult to understand given the extreme underutilization of current testing measures.
"Women reacted strongly to that recommendation with protests about their right to have an annual mammogram that should not be taken away," said Milayna Subar, who led the study. "Interestingly though, we found that a large percentage of women do not get regular mammograms."
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