Fall 2013

Helping Fight Breast Cancer with GIS

Missed mammograms represent missed opportunities for early breast cancer diagnosis.  Marshfield Clinic and the UW-Stevens Point Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center teamed together to discover what causes missed mammograms and ultimately provide more accessible breast cancer screening services.  Dr. Adedayo Onitilo, an oncologist/hematologist with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation and his project team partnered with Douglas Miskowiak from the GIS Center to study patient and clinical characteristics associated with the use of mammography services.

Their research was published ahead of print in the prestigious American Journal of Roentgenology and in print this fall in Rural and Remote Health. The study identified significant patient characteristics that lead to missed mammograms, including family history of breast cancer, number of medical encounters, and notably travel time to screening facilities.  Network analyses conducted along a road network with geographic information systems (GIS) helped reveal that each additional minute of travel time decreased the odds of undergoing at least one mammographic examination in the five years before cancer diagnosis.  Women who missed five of their last five mammograms lived twice as far from the nearest mammogram facility as those who missed none.  The study shows that travel distance to the nearest mammography center is an important barrier to routine breast cancer screening.   The project was funded by the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.

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