Objectives: This study examined times to diagnosis and treatment for medically underserved women screened for breast cancer.
Methods: Intervals from first positive screening test to diagnosis to initiation of treatment were determined for 1659 women 40 years and older diagnosed with breast cancer.
Results: Women with abnormal mammograms had shorter diagnostic intervals than women with abnormal clinical breast examinations and normal mammograms. Women with self-reported breast symptoms had shorter diagnostic intervals than asymptomatic women. Diagnostic intervals were less than 60 days in 78% of cases. Treatment intervals were generally 2 weeks or less.
Conclusions: Most women diagnosed with breast cancer were followed up in a timely manner after screening. Further investigation is needed to identify and then address factors associated with longer diagnostic and treatment intervals to maximize the benefits of early detection.