Objective: In countries that have instituted national mammographic screening programmes, mortality from breast cancer has decreased by as much as 63%. Although mortality rates from breast cancer in Jamaica are high, there is no national mammographic screening programme. In this context, opportunistic screening, which depends on contact between healthcare provider and patient, as well as selfreferral become important. Therefore, the authors sought to determine the source of referrals for women who had mammography.
Subjects and Methods: The variables of age, indication for mammography, source of referral and referring physician area of specialty if applicable were extracted from the attendance records for all patients who had mammography at the breast imaging unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Radiology West (RadWest ) in the year 2003.
Results: There were 779 bilateral mammograms done at UHWI of which 452 (58%) were screening and 1223 mammograms done at RadWest of which 657 (54%) were screening. The difference in proportion of self-referral between the two facilities was significantly different (p < 0.001). Of the 452 screening mammograms performed at UHWI, 329 (73%) were self-referred, 31 (7%) were from primary care, 18 (4%) from gynaecologists and 17 (4%) from general surgeons. In contrast, of the 657 screening mammograms, at Radwest, 92 (14%) were self-referred, 323 (49%) were from primary care, 47 (7%) from gynaecologists and 37 (6%) from general surgeons.
Conclusion: To increase the utilization and hence effectiveness of screening mammography, programmes
targeting healthcare professionals, particularly gynaecologists and the public are needed.