What measurement means for breast cancer screening

Breast cancer happens when a tumor forms in the cells of the breast. It is most common in women who are 55 years or older. High quality care to prevent breast cancer includes regular mammogram (a screening test for breast cancer), particularly for women ages 55 and older. 

Breast cancer is the second most-common cancer in women, behind only skin cancer. About 1 in 8 women (12%) will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. Men are generally at low risk for developing breast cancer. As with any type of cancer, breast cancer can spread, invading tissue in other parts of the body, and be fatal if not treated. When caught at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is 98% – which is why cancer screening is so important.

Routine screenings are the best way to find breast cancer at an early stage, before it has spread throughout the breast and/or to other parts of the body. About 90% of breast cancers fall into two types – ductal carcinomas (cancer that begins and grows in the milk ducts and surrounding tissues) and lobular carcinomas (cancer that begins and grows in lobules and surrounding glandular tissue).

Symptoms of breast cancer may include:

  • A lump that can be felt
  • Swelling or mass in the armpit (which could signal an inflammation of the lymph nodes)
  • Tenderness or swelling of the breast
  • And sometimes there are no symptoms, making screening all the more important.

The medical group average for the breast cancer screening measure is 81%. This means 81 of 100 women between the ages of 50 and 74 in Minnesota and neighboring areas had received a mammogram in the past two years.

High rates of breast cancer screening can be a sign of strong clinic performance in cancer prevention and treatment. It’s important to know that small differences in percentages don’t necessarily reflect the quality of care you’ll receive with a certain medical group or clinic. It is more important to note the large differences between providers, and speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

How we calculate the measure

We measure how well medical groups perform in making sure their patients between ages 50 to 74 had received a mammogram in the past two years.

This measure is evaluated annually. The current data is based on information collected from the billing data of health plans for dates of service between January 1 and December 31, 2018.