• To evaluate the adequacy of cervical and breast cancer screening in the United States, data were analyzed from a 1986 nationwide telephone survey (n=4659). Papanicolaou smears within the recommended three- to five-year interval were reported by 79% of women aged 20 years or older. Within the preceding year, 55% of women aged 40 years or older had breast examinations performed by physicians, and 20% of women aged 50 years or older had mammograms. Women who were uninsured or lower in socioeconomic status were less likely to have each of these three preventive measures, independent of the age, health status, and frequency of physician visits of the respondent. In addition, women aged 50 years or older were less likely to have had Papanicolaou smears (63% vs 89%) and breast examinations (52% vs 68%) than those women aged 20 to 49 years. These findings suggest that women who are older, uninsured, or lower in socioeconomic status are at an increased risk for not receiving preventive care, and that screening mammography, although more common than a decade ago, is still markedly underused.
(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1177-1181)