The University Record, April 22, 1998

Success of Michigan’s mammography quality law has national implications

Marilyn Roubidoux, associate professor of radiology, reads mammogram film. Michigan’s standards of mammography have been a model for stricter federal quality standards, which were enacted in October. Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Dave Wilkins
Health System Public Relations

Michigan's strict mammography regulations, enacted in 1989 and beefed up in 1994, improved the quality of mammograms and did not limit access to the cancer-screening procedure, according to a new analysis.

These findings are significant beyond Michigan's borders, because federal mammography standards have been enacted that closely mirror the Michigan model. The success of Michigan's law, which was the first of its kind in the nation, suggests the federal regulations also will reap positive results. The White House authorized the stricter national standards in October.

Each year, more than 20 million U.S. women receive mammography exams, a procedure shown to be an effective method of controlling breast cancer morbidity and mortality. Prior to the federal mammography regulations, quality standards varied from state to state.

The study analyzing the effects of Michigan's mammography law is detailed in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The article's lead author is Lou Fintor, a faculty research investigator in the Department of Internal Medicine.

The bottom line is that after Michigan enacted its stricter standards:

The image quality of mammograms improved significantly, meaning doctors can better read and interpret them.

The number of mammography facilities and machines operating in the state did not decline significantly.

Trends in overall use of mammography in Michigan were similar to those in other states, strongly suggesting the tougher regulations did not limit access to mammography.

The mammography study was a collaboration between the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services.