Research Explores the Merit of Annual Mammograms for the Elderly

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Screenings were tied to improved breast cancer mortality among those over 69
Screenings were tied to improved breast cancer mortality among those over 69

HealthDay News — Regular mammograms still benefit elderly women, according to research published in the December issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Florida Atlantic University researchers analyzed Medicare data from 1995 to 2009 on 4886 black women and 59 498 white women, all of whom were aged 69 or older.

Among women aged 75 to 84, those who had annual mammograms were less likely to die from breast cancer over a 10-year period than those who had irregular or no mammograms. Breast cancer patients aged 69 to 84 who had annual mammograms in the four years before their diagnosis had lower five- and 10-year mortality rates than those who had irregular or no mammograms. Ten-year mortality rates among women aged 69 to 84 were three times higher among whites and more than two times higher among blacks who had irregular or no mammogram screening, compared with those who had annual mammograms.

The researchers also found that white women who died of breast cancer were more likely to be older, to have been diagnosed at a later stage, and to have received chemotherapy. They were also less likely to have had surgery or have undergone radiation therapy.

"In these Medicare claims and Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data, elderly non-Hispanic women who self-selected for annual mammography had lower 10-year breast cancer mortality than corresponding women who self-selected for biennial or no/irregular mammography. These findings were similar among black and white women," the authors write. "The data highlight the evidentiary limitations of data used for current screening mammography recommendations."

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