Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Surveillance Mammography for Older Survivors of Breast Cancer

Despite the unknown benefits of annual surveillance mammography in older survivors of breast cancer with an estimated life expectancy of less than 5 years, many of these women are still undergoing routine screening. These are the findings of a study conducted by Rachel A. Freedman, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“We know very little about how often we should do mammography in older survivors and when it is OK to stop doing mammograms without a detriment in a woman’s outcome,” stated Dr. Freedman in a published interview. “It is likely many women do not benefit from indefinite mammography as they age.”

Based on data from the National Health Interview Study, 1040 women older than age 65 with a history of breast cancer were identified. Approximately 9% of these respondents had an estimated life expectancy of up to 5 years, and 35%, of up to 10 years. Overall 79% of these women reported having routine surveillance mammography in the past 12 months. Conversely, 14% of survivors who had an estimated life expectancy of more than 10 years did not report having had mammography.


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