Older Women Can Benefit From Mammograms, Study Finds

Regular mammogram use in elderly women can have a positive effect on lowering the likelihood a woman will die from breast cancer. Those are the results found by researchers who analyzed Medicare data from 1995 to 2009. The patients included in the data sample where all aged 69 or older and amounted to nearly 5,000 black women and almost 60,000 white women.

After looking at the data, researchers were able to determine that women between 75 and 84 were less likely over a 10-year period to die from breast cancer if they underwent regular mammograms. They also found that breast cancer patients who were aged 69 to 84 who had undergone annual mammograms in the four years prior to their diagnoses had lower death rates. What’s more, 10-year death rates were found to be about three times higher among whites and two times higher among blacks ages 69 to 84 who had irregular mammogram screening leading up to diagnosis.

The study casts light on the topic of whether or not mammograms can be useful screening tools in women as they age. As the numbers showed, continuation of routine mammograms can prove critical in helping women gain an edge against this potentially deadly disease should it present. Keeping up with routine mammograms in the 70s and 80s does, as researchers found, have a positive effect on women in this age group.

Breast cancer affects about one in eight women over the course of their lifetimes and is responsible for killing about one in 25 women. Mammograms serve as one of the most effective early screening tools for this form of cancer. At present, they are strongly recommended for women ages 50 to 74 years about every 2 years. As researchers found, however, older women may also benefit from them.

Women who are concerned about breast cancer should discuss the topic with their healthcare provider. Screening recommendations may be different based on personal risk factors.

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