Geographic access to breast imaging for US women

Tracy Onega, Rebecca Hubbard, Deirdre Hill, Christoph I. Lee, Jennifer S. Haas, Heather A. Carlos, Jennifer Alford-Teaster, Andy Bogart, Wendy B. DeMartini, Karla Kerlikowske, Beth A. Virnig, Diana S.M. Buist, Louise Henderson, Anna N.A. Tosteson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: The breast imaging modalities of mammography, ultrasound, and MRI are widely used for screening, diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance of breast cancer. Geographic access to breast imaging services in various modalities is not known at a national level overall or for population subgroups.

METHODS: A retrospective study of 2004-2008 Medicare claims data was conducted to identify ZIP codes in which breast imaging occurred, and data were mapped. Estimated travel times were made for each modality for 215,798 census block groups in the contiguous United States. Using Census 2010 data, travel times were characterized by sociodemographic factors for 92,788,909 women aged ≥30 years, overall, and by subgroups of age, race/ethnicity, rurality, education, and median income.

RESULTS: Overall, 85% of women had travel times of ≤20 minutes to nearest mammography or ultrasound services, and 70% had travel times of ≤20 minutes for MRI with little variation by age. Native American women had median travel times 2-3 times longer for all 3 modalities, compared to women of other racial/ethnic groups. For rural women, median travel times to breast imaging services were 4-8-fold longer than they were for urban women. Black and Asian women had the shortest median travel times to services for all 3 modalities.

CONCLUSIONS: Travel times to mammography and ultrasound breast imaging facilities are short for most women, but for breast MRI, travel times are notably longer. Native American and rural women are disadvantaged in geographic access based on travel times to breast imaging services. This work informs potential interventions to reduce inequities in access and utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-882
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Radiology : JACR
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014 American College of Radiology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Travel time
  • access
  • breast imaging
  • disparities
  • mammography


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