Background: Early detection and immediate follow-up treatment for cancer of the breast and cervix can reduce morbidity and mortality. This report describes adherence to follow-up appointments for suspected breast and cervical malignancies in a population of low-income black women who participated in a community-based nurse-managed screening program.
Methods: Components of the program that were part of the intervention included the following: a consistent referral mechanism augmented by a computerized tickler system; education of women about the importance of follow-up; and active nurse assistance in the follow-up process. Referral for follow-up of suspected malignancies or for other questionable findings was made to the public sector hospital clinics (86%) or to other providers of the women's choice (14%).
Results: Follow-up rates for suspected malignancies of the breast were high (92%) in this population of women, sometimes described as less likely to adhere to recommendations for continued care. In contrast, adherence rates for gynecologic conditions were lower (70%).
Conclusions: This screening program and follow-up system has relevance to systems that serve similar groups of low-income women.