Problem/condition: In 1999, an estimated 175,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 43,300 will die from the disease. In the same year, an estimated 12,800 women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer, and 4,800 will die from it. Early detection and timely treatment of breast cancer and cervical dysplasia can alter the progress of and reduce mortality from these diseases.
Reporting period covered: 1989-1997 for breast cancer screening and 1991-1997 for cervical cancer screening.
Description of system: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is a state-based telephone survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized adult population (i.e., persons aged > or =18 years). In this report, responses for women aged > or =40 years are included for measures of breast cancer screening, and responses for women aged > or =18 years with an intact uterine cervix are included for measures of cervical cancer screening.
Results: The percentage of women aged > or =40 years who reported ever participating in breast cancer screening and the proportion who had participated within the previous 2 years increased during 1989-1997. The percentage of women aged > or =18 years who reported ever participating in cervical cancer screening and the proportion who had participated within the previous 2 years were stable during 1991-1997. For both types of screening, substantially fewer women had received screening within the previous 2 years than had ever been screened.
Interpretation: These findings may indicate that some women who participate in initial screening do not seek further screening.
Actions taken: Initiatives to encourage women to receive initial screening should continue, but additional initiatives specifically aimed at promoting rescreening should be developed. Continued surveillance of the percentage of women who receive regular screening will help public health officials evaluate breast and cervical cancer prevention programs.