Oeffinger's study included 551 randomly selected women who had survived a pediatric cancer and had undergone chest radiation as part of their treatment.
Overall, 55 percent of the women reported having a screening mammogram during the past two years. Forty-seven percent of those under 40 had never had a screening mammogram, and only 53 percent of those between 40 and 50 years old participated in regular mammogram screenings.
The study found that screening rates were three times higher among women whose physicians recommended the test.
Oeffinger said many different factors could account for why these women aren't being screened.
"These are women who were treated in the 70s and 80s, largely before we had survivor programs, and they weren't given treatment summaries," he said. And, because it's a small group of people -- probably only about 20,000 to 25,000 women across the United States, most doctors will only have one patient or less who has survived a childhood cancer and had chest radiation, so it's not something they may be familiar with.
Schnabel recommended that when "women transition to an adult practitioner, make sure you let them know what your pediatric diagnosis was, and the details of your treatment. And you need to be aware that having this radiation does put you at an increased risk of breast cancer, and if you have any family history of breast cancer, it's even more important to get screened."
To learn more about what researchers know about childhood cancer survivors, visit the National Cancer Institute.
SOURCES: Kevin Oeffinger, M.D., director, program for adult survivors of pediatric cancers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City; Freya Schnabel, M.D., director, breast surgery, New York U
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