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Mammograms benefit women up to the age of 75 and 3-yearly screening intervals are best
Date:4/18/2008

Berlin, Germany: Breast cancer screening is effective, appropriate and reduces deaths from the disease in women aged up to 75 years old according to new research in over 860,000 women aged 70-75 presented today (Friday) at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) in Berlin. In another study of nearly 100,000 women aged 50-62, also presented at EBCC-6 today, researchers found that the best interval for screening was every three years a finding that counters arguments that women should have mammograms more frequently.

Many countries that run breast cancer screening programmes offer it to women aged between 50 and 70. However, in 1998 in The Netherlands, the programme was extended to women aged up to 75. The results presented today suggest that this is an appropriate upper age limit and saves lives without causing substantial harm by subjecting older women to over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

This is the first study to provide firm support for the idea that offering mammograms to women up to the age of 75 is effective, as, until 1998, very few women were screened at this age.

Mr Jacques Fracheboud, a senior researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), and his colleagues found that from 2003, five years after screening was extended to women aged 70-75, there was a steady decline in deaths from breast cancer among women aged 75-79. By 2006 breast cancer mortality was 29.5% lower than the average for the period 1986-1997 for this age group a time when breast cancer mortality in women aged 75-79 had remained stable. In 1986-1997 the average was 166 deaths per 100,000 women aged 75-79 and in 2006 it was 117 per 100,000.

It takes some years before a significant effect from screening can be seen, therefore breast cancer mortality was analysed for the ages 75-79.

That means that women, aged 70-75 at the time that screening was extended to this age group, have become five years older and
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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