A personalized letter from a family physician may help improve return rates for screening mammography, according to research scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2014 Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Sept. 4 to 6 in San Francisco.

Elisa K. Chan, M.D., of Saint John Regional Hospital in Canada, and colleagues identified 5,385 women, aged 52 to 74 years, from the Screening Mammography Program, who had received a normal result on prior mammogram and were overdue for return screening. They randomly assigned the women to receive either a standard postcard reminder (2,689 participants) or a postcard reminder plus a personalized reminder letter from their family physician (2,696 participants).

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The researchers found that women in the postcard plus letter group were more likely to return for screening mammogram within six months than women in the postcard only group (33.2 versus 22.3 percent; odds ratio [OR], 1.7; P < 0.0001).

Multivariable analysis showed that women who had more than one previous screening mammogram were more likely to return than those who had only one previous screening mammogram (OR, 2.2; P < 0.0001). Women who were 30 to 36 months overdue were more likely to return for screening mammography than those who were 42 to 48 months overdue (OR, 2.4; P < 0.0001).

“A signed family physician reminder letter is a simple and effective intervention to improve screening mammography return rates in overdue women,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or biomedical companies.

  1. Chan, Elisa K., et al. “Improving screening mammography return rates in overdue women: A randomized study of signed reminder letters from family physicians.” ASCO 2014 Breast Cancer Symposium. J Clin Oncol 32, 2014 (suppl 26; abstr 1). September 4, 2014.