Massachusetts Shows Improvement in Number of Women Receiving Mammograms, Pap Smears, Report States
About 84% of Massachusetts women ages 50 and older have had a mammogram within the last two years, and 88% of women ages 18 and older have had a Pap smear within the last three years, according to a women's health study released by the state Department of Public Health. Those figures give Massachusetts the second highest mammogram rate and the fourth highest Pap smear rate in the nation, the AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. The numbers, from 1998, the most recent data available, show an increase in the percentage of women receiving mammograms since 1997 (81%) and over the national average (75%). For mammograms, the "most dramatic increase" was among older, uninsured women. In 1992, 60% fewer women had regular breast exams than in 1998, when more than 70% had regular breast exams. Saying that the report was "extremely good news," Deborah Klein Walker, associate commissioner for the Department of Public Health, attributed the state's improved performance to an increase in federal and state dollars to provide free mammograms and breast health education. As for Pap smears, black women reported the highest levels of receiving tests, followed by white women, Hispanics and Asians. Walker said that the "relatively low percentage" (65%) of Asian women who received regular Pap smears is "cause for concern," adding, "We will be working with providers and the Asian community to understand what are the barriers preventing Asian women from getting Pap smears." The report also examined pregnancies, birth control use and domestic violence (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.