Satisfaction and Anxiety for Women During Investigation of an Abnormal Screening Mammogram
BACKGROUND Women with abnormal screening mammograms require diagnostic assessment and experience anxiety until a diagnosis is established. This report evaluated the timeliness of diagnosis after an abnormal screening mammogram in the Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia (SMPBC). METHODS Information on diagnostic interventions following an abnormal screen (N = 10,314) provided through 11 regional SMPBC services between January 1, 1993 and June 30, 1994 were abstracted and analyzed. RESULTS The median time from abnormal screen to diagnosis was 3.4 weeks with regional variation of 2.0 to 4.7 weeks; 10% waited 8.7 weeks or longer. For the 19% of women proceeding to open biopsy, the median diagnostic interval was 7.1 weeks with regional variation of 4.6 to 9.3 weeks; 10% waited 13.1 weeks or longer. INTERPRETATION After an abnormal screening mammogram, women waited many weeks for a definitive diagnosis, especially those proceeding to open biopsy. Opportunities for process improvement were identified.