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Report shows long wait for mammograms

March 30, 2009 3:06:32 PM PDT
Regular mammogram screenings for breast cancer can save lives. But now, a surprising new survey has found that some women in New York City have a tough time getting appointments. In fact, it can take months. Angeline Rivera had her regularly scheduled mammogram Monday morning in the Bronx, and all looks well for the 54-year-old breast cancer survivor. She says she finds the results of the mammogram survey disturbing.

"As far as waiting for an appointment, I don't really think it should be too long," Rivera said.

The survey was conducted by Congressman Anthony Weiner, and it found 14 New York City screening facilities have women waiting at least one month for a mammogram. The report says some breast cancers can double in size during that time.

"If that were truly the case, we would probably do breast screenings every month," said Dr. Tova Koenigsberg, with Montefiore Medical Center. "But we actually do breast screenings on women once a year because the average cancer is not going to grow that quickly."

According to the survey, Montefiore's wait time was five weeks. At St. Barnabus, it was 11 weeks - far longer than the hospital's number of 30-days or less. Bronx Lebanon had the borough's highest wait time at 15 weeks.

"Our waiting time is four weeks, total," said Dr. Magdy Mikhail, of Bronx Lebanon. "Much different than 15. Much different than 15."

The survey also shows Medicare re-imbursement for a mammogram screening only covers about two-thirds of the actual cost, leaving health centers to pay the remaining third. The result - fewer qualified doctors committed to reading mammograms. And when that happens, the wait time grows longer.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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