Women who think they are too old to worry about mammograms may want to reconsider the age at which their breast cancer screening years are behind them, a new study suggests.
Based on an analysis of nearly 7 million mammograms over a seven-year period, “the benefit continues with increasing age up until 90,” said study author Dr. Cindy Lee. She is an assistant professor in residence at the University of California, San Francisco.
The question of when to stop having mammograms has been widely debated. In 2009, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force issued new guidelines, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening mammography in women aged 75 and older.
According to the study, investigators looked to see whether the mammography screening correlated in higher cancer detection rate and a lower recall rate.
In the analysis, which included data from 39 states from 2008 through 2014, nearly four breast cancers were found for every 1,000 patients screened. The recall rate was 10 percent.
“We are finding more cancers with increasing age,” Lee said, which makes sense because the risk rises with age. “We are doing better at catching them,” she said. And, “we have decreased the recall rate. We are calling back fewer women for additional testing, but are finding more cancers.”
The study findings suggest that the decision to screen may depend on a woman’s personal choice and health status. The study was to be presented at the Radiolofical Society of North America annual meeting, in Chicago. Studies presented at medical meetings are viewed as preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
According to Robert Smith, vice president of screening for the American Cancer Society, said the study finding show that mammograms are still worthwhile after the age of 70.
“Many of these deaths are avoidable, as Lee and colleagues demonstrate in this new report, since mammography screening performs increasingly well as women get older. While incidence is high, the disease is slower growing and density is lower, providing improved opportunity for early detection,” Smith explained.
The Comprehensive Breast Care Centers in South Florida offer mammograms and 3D mammograms which help detect breast cancer early. Contact us today to schedule your Breast Cancer Screening and mammogram.