Women benefit from mammography screening beyond age 75

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CHICAGO – Women age 75 years and older should continue to get screening mammograms because of the comparatively high incidence of breast cancer found in this age group, according to a new study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Guidelines on what age to stop breast cancer screening have been a source of confusion in recent years. In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released controversial guidelines stating there was not enough evidence to assess benefits and harms of screening mammography in women age 75 and older. However, other professional groups advise that women may continue to undergo mammography screening as long as they are in good health.

"Ongoing debate exists regarding the age to cease screening mammography," said Stamatia V. Destounis, M.D., radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, LLC, in Rochester, N.Y. "Our findings provide important data demonstrating that there is value in screening women over 75 because there is a considerable incidence of breast cancer."

For the study, Dr. Destounis and colleagues analyzed data from 763,256 screening mammography exams at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care between 2007 and 2017. Screening-detected cancer was diagnosed in 3,944 patients. Further analysis was performed to identify the number and type of cancers diagnosed among women 75 years of age and older.

There were 76,885 patients (10 percent) age 75 and older included in the study. The average age of the patients was 80.4. A total of 645 malignancies were diagnosed in 616 patients, for a cancer rate of 8.4 detections per 1,000 exams in this age group.

"For the relatively small percentage of our screening population that was comprised of women 75 and older, the patients diagnosed in this population made up 16 percent of all patients diagnosed with screening-detected cancers," Dr. Destounis said.

Researchers also found that 82 percent of the malignancies diagnosed were invasive cancers, of which 63 percent were grade 2 or 3, which grow and spread more quickly. Ninety-eight percent of the cancers found were able to be treated surgically. Positive lymph nodes were reported at surgical excision in 7 percent of the patients. Seventeen cancers were not surgically treated due to advanced patient age or overall degraded patient health.

"Most of the tumors found in this age group were invasive, and almost all of these patients–98 percent–underwent surgery," Dr. Destounis said.

Mammography plays a critical role in the early detection of breast cancer, because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a woman or her physician can feel them, and early detection leads to better treatment options and improved survival.

Dr. Destounis advises women over 75 who are in relatively good health to continue routine screenings.

"The benefits of screening yearly after age 75 continue to outweigh any minimal risk of additional diagnostic testing," she said.

Co-authors are Andrea L. Arieno, B.S., and Amanda Santacroce, B.A.

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Note: Copies of RSNA 2018 news releases and electronic images will be available online at RSNA.org/press18 beginning Monday, Nov. 26.

RSNA is an association of over 54,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists, promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)

Editor's note: The data in these releases may differ from those in the published abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please contact us.

For patient-friendly information on mammography, visit RadiologyInfo.org.

Media Contact

Linda Brooks
[email protected]
630-590-7762
@rsna

http://www.rsna.org

1 Comment
  1. William says

    This “study” is produced by people with big vested interests in mammography such as radiologists.

    Unbiased scientific data has long shown that there is marginal, if any, reliable evidence that mammography, both conventional and digital (3D), reduces mortality from breast cancer in a significant way in any age bracket but a lot of solid evidence shows the procedure does provide more serious harm than serious benefit (read the books: ‘Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy’ by Peter Gotzsche and ‘The Mammogram Myth’ by Rolf Hefti).

    IF…….. women (and men) at large were to examine the mammogram data above and beyond the information of the mammogram business cartel (eg American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Komen), they’d also find that it is almost exclusively the big profiteers of the test, ie. the “experts,” (eg radiologists, oncologists, medical trade associations, breast cancer “charities” etc) who promote the mass use of the test and that most pro-mammogram “research” is conducted by people with massive vested interests tied to the mammogram industry.

    Most women are fooled by the misleading medical mantra that early detection by mammography saves lives simply because the public has been fed (“educated” or rather brainwashed) with a very one-sided biased pro-mammogram set of information circulated by the big business of mainstream medicine and their allied corrupt pawns in the governments. The above mentioned two independent investigative works show that early detection does not mean that there is less breast cancer mortality.

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