Mammography, an X-ray procedure that can detect small breast tumors, is an important tool for detecting breast cancer at an early stage and, when coupled with appropriate treatment, can reduce breast cancer deaths. In 2002, GAO reported in Mammography: Capacity Generally Exists to Deliver Services (GAO-02-532) that the capacity to provide mammography services was generally adequate, but that the number of mammography facilities had decreased by 5 percent from 1998 to 2001 and that about one-fourth of counties had no machines. GAO was asked to update its information on facility closures and mammography service capacity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates mammography quality and maintains a database on mammography facilities and other capacity elements. GAO reviewed FDA data on facility closures and examined reasons for closures in recent years. GAO analyzed changes in the nation's capacity for and use of mammography services using FDA capacity data and National Center for Health Statistics data on service use. GAO also interviewed state and local officials about the effects of the loss or absence of mammography machines on access, including access for medically underserved women, such as those who are poor or uninsured.
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