Breast cancer survivors are not getting the recommended number of mammograms following surgery, according to a recent study led by a Mayo Clinic oncologist.

Dr. Kathryn Ruddy’s mammogram screening study found that one year after surgery, 13 percent of breast cancer survivors had not followed up with any breast imaging. Ruddy said the problem is many breast cancer survivors are not getting the recommended screenings and, “Black women were less likely to have mammograms than white women. This is a concern and may be contributing to the poorer prognoses we see in black women with breast cancer.”

The study also found that only 50 percent of patients followed mammogram screening recommendations at least five years after surgery. She said clinicians need to help patients coordinate their tests better. And she hopes survivorship care plans may help improve the rate of mammograms, as well. “These are documents that describe for a patient at the end of cancer care what the diagnosis was, what were the treatments received, and what to do going forward,” Ruddy explained.

As uncomfortable as a mammogram might be, Dr. Kathryn Ruddy wants survivors to know, “If they have breast tissue left, it is really important that we both screen for recurrence and also look for new cancers.”

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.