(HealthDay News) – For older women, biennial screening mammography is associated with similar rates of advanced disease and lower rates of false-positive recall, irrespective of comorbidity, according to a study published online Feb. 5 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

To examine the risk of adverse tumor characteristics and false positive rates according to screening interval, age, and comorbidity, Dejana Braithwaite, PhD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a prospective study involving 2,993 women with breast cancer and 137,949 women without breast cancer, aged 66–89 years at study entry, who underwent screening mammography.

The researchers found that adverse tumor characteristics were not significantly different based on comorbidity, age, or screening interval. Compared with biennial screeners, annual screeners had a higher 10-year cumulative probability of a false-positive mammography result (48% of annual screeners aged 66–74 years vs. 29% of biennial screeners), regardless of comorbidity.

“More high-quality observational research examining additional measures of comorbidity and breast cancer mortality may facilitate improved understanding of the benefits and harms of different screening mammography frequencies among older women and, ultimately, inform clinical and policy decisions about the appropriate use of screening in this growing population,” the authors write.

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