Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 45–50

Mammography capacity and appointment wait times: barriers to breast cancer screening

  • Elena B. Elkin
  • Jacqueline G. Snow
  • Nicole M. Leoce
  • Coral L. Atoria
  • Deborah Schrag
Original paper



To assess the impact of mammography capacity on appointment wait times.


We surveyed by telephone all mammography facilities federally certified in 2008 in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, New Mexico, and New York using a simulated patient format. County-level mammography capacity, defined as the number of mammography machines per 10,000 women aged 40 and older, was estimated from FDA facility certification records and US Census data.


1,614 (86%) of 1,882 mammography facilities completed the survey. Time until next available screening mammogram appointment was <1 week at 55% of facilities, 1–4 weeks at 34% of facilities, and >1 month at 11% of facilities. Facilities in counties with lower capacity had longer wait times, and a one-unit increase in county capacity was associated with 21% lower odds of a facility reporting a wait time >1 month (p < 0.01). There was no association between wait time and the availability of evening or weekend appointments or digital mammography.


Lower mammography capacity is associated with longer wait times for screening mammograms.


Enhancement of mammography resources in areas with limited capacity may reduce wait times for screening mammogram appointments, thereby increasing access to services and rates of breast cancer screening.


Mammography Breast cancer Screening Access Geography 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena B. Elkin
    • 1
  • Jacqueline G. Snow
    • 2
  • Nicole M. Leoce
    • 3
  • Coral L. Atoria
    • 4
  • Deborah Schrag
    • 5
  1. 1.Health Outcomes Research Group, Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The Chartis GroupChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Mailman School of Public Health (NML)Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Health Outcomes Research Group, Department of Epidemiology and BiostatsiticsMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Center for Outcomes and Policy Research, Department of Medical OncologyDana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations