Breast cancer screening data show that upstate New York women make getting a mammogram a priority

leva doyle
Thursday, October 17, 2019


Breast cancer screening data show that upstate New York women make getting a mammogram a priority


SYRACUSE, N.Y.    Upstate New York women between the ages of 50 and 74 are beating the national breast cancer screening goal, but two in 10 still do not get their recommended mammograms, according to a review of data issued today by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.


The breast cancer screening rate in upstate New York (82.2 percent) exceeds the national Healthy People 2020 goal (81.1 percent) established in December 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, the overall breast cancer screening rate in the U.S. was 72.4 percent. 


“I’m pleased to see the high breast cancer screening rate among women in upstate New York,” said LouAnne Giangreco, M.D., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield vice president and chief medical officer. “It shows that the message regarding the importance of screening is getting through.” The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women ages 50 to 74 be screened for breast cancer every two years. Some women may need to be screened earlier and/or more frequently.


Drilling down into the latest screening data, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield found that some parts of upstate New York are doing better than others. Since the health insurer last reviewed the data in 2014, breast cancer screening rates increased in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Utica/Rome/North Country regions, but dropped in Western and Central New York.


Among women in New York state, breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second- leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Early detection is key, and mammography is the most important screening test for the disease. A mammogram can detect a tumor up to two years before it can be felt by the patient or a doctor.


“Considering the effectiveness of mammograms, we want to do everything we can to reduce any obstacles that prevent women from getting screened,” said Giangreco. “New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 96.5 percent of the upstate New York population has health insurance, so coverage isn’t likely to be as much of an issue as other barriers to care may be.”


Obstacles that may prevent women from having their routine breast cancer screening can include lack of transportation, inconvenient screening facility hours, and/or patient apprehension about screening discomfort and safety.


To combat the transportation barrier, some hospitals and medical practices make it more convenient for women to be screened by bringing a mobile mammography van out into the community. Many hospitals and clinics also offer extended hours for on-site mammography screenings, so appointments can fit most every schedule.


“The test only takes a few minutes and can possibly save a life,” said Giangreco. “The potential benefits of early cancer detection outweigh any perceived or potential risk.”


A woman’s risk factors determine when she should begin getting screened.


All women ages 50 to 74 should be screened for breast cancer every two years.

At age 40, women at average risk should discuss with their doctor when to start screening. 

Women at high risk or with a family history of breast cancer should talk with their doctor about the right age and frequency of screening.

For tips on making breast cancer screening a priority, view a downloadable Excellus BlueCross BlueShield poster at


Learn more about breast cancer risk factors and screenings by talking with your doctor, or by visiting the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force website at