Background: Although Pap smear screening for cervical cancer in general has been successfully implemented, mammography screening for breast cancer remains relatively underused. Patients having one screening test are more likely to have other screening tests performed. The objective of this study was to determine whether visits by women for Pap smears serve as opportunities for physicians to order a screening mammogram.
Methods: A matched case-control design was used for this retrospective study. Eligible women included those over 50 years of age who had no history of breast cancer or mastectomy and who had made at least one visit to a family practice residency program during the 2-year study period. Cases were randomly selected from women who had mammograms performed. For each case, one control subject who did not have a mammogram was matched by age and number of visits. A chart audit was performed to collect data on the characteristics of these women and whether they completed their screening tests.
Results: The adjusted odds ratio (controlling for the patient's age and number of physician visits) for mammogram completion among women who had a Pap smear compared with those who did not was 6.67. This effect persisted after controlling for other confounding factors using logistic regression.
Conclusions: Performing a Pap smear appears to serve as a prompt for the physician to order a screening mammogram. That physicians appear to provide screening tests, particularly Pap smears and mammograms, as a package of services should be considered when future efforts to improve implementation are made.