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More screening centers close

From Times wire reports

More than 500 facilities that conduct mammograms, X-ray procedures that detect breast cancer, closed in the U.S. from 2001 to 2004, a development that may keep poor or uninsured women from being screened, a report said.

The number of mammography centers fell by 538, or 6%, over the three years, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released last week. Though the remaining 8,768 centers can meet the need in most parts of the country, women in some counties had to wait a long time or travel a long distance to be screened, the report said.

“Lengthy travel distances may especially pose an access barrier for medically underserved women,” said the report by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress. “Access problems for these women are of concern because uninsured and poor women have lower-than-average screening mammography rates.”

The report said 117 counties around the country lost more than a quarter of their mammography machines and that one in four counties had no machines at all.

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