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Women 80 and older benefit from mammography, but few are screened
Date:4/22/2008

Alexandria, Va.In the first study to assess mammography in women 80 and older, researchers found that having regular mammograms significantly decreases the risk of being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, but only about one-fifth of women in this age group receive them regularly. The study, which is being published online April 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), also showed that each mammogram that was performed in these older women was associated with a further reduction in the risk of being diagnosed with late-stage disease. It is estimated that approximately 17 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S. are found in women 80 and older.

This study suggests that mammography benefits may have no age limit and that women should consider being screened on a regular basis, even into their 80s and possibly 90s, depending on their current health status, explained Brian D. Badgwell, MD, a surgical oncology fellow at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the studys lead author. Mammography has been shown to be an excellent means of detecting breast cancer early, when it is most likely to be cured. We found that when breast cancer was diagnosed, it was more likely to be found at an early stage when a woman had at least three mammograms in the five-year period before diagnosis. He recommended that healthcare providers and their older female patientsparticularly women in reasonably good healthdiscuss the benefits of mammography.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammography beginning at age 40, with no upper age limit for women in good health. However, many older women arent following those guidelines. Real-world experience has shown that women are less likely to get regular mammograms as they age, especially if they have medical conditions that are likely to limit their life expectancy.

Using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Medicare data for the years 1996 to 2002, Dr. Badgwel
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Contact: Tiffany Reynolds
tiffany.reynolds@asco.org
703-519-1423
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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