When should you stop having a Mammogram?

Many people like Prof. Michael Baumbaum question the value of having a Mammogram.  Europa Donna once held a fascinating debate on the subject, when I did wonder if this eminent breast cancer surgeon might stand up and floor his opponent – but it calmed down and we were spared fisticuffs!

Currently, a new study being presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) suggests that women aged 75 years and older may benefit from routine mammograms. It is suggested that women in this age group 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 at the annual meeting of the RSNA).

The trial analysed the results of 763,256 mammograms in the US – which detected a total of 3,944 breast cancer cases between 2007 and 2017. In the 75+ age group, 76,885 women were screened (10% of the overall cohort). In this age group, a total of 645 breast cancers were detected in 616 patients: a detection rate of 8.4 per 1,000 scans.

With the majority (82%) of breast cancers detected in the 75+ age bracket being invasive, and 98% of women undergoing surgery, the researchers at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, Rochester, N.Y suggest that regular breast screening could be beneficial for women over the age of 75.

This is particularly relevant as the UK has one of WORST survival rates from Breast Cancer in Europe – not something to be proud of.

Breast Cancer NowSally Greenbrook, Policy Manager at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“It’s encouraging to see some benefits of breast screening being demonstrated in women over 75, but we need further evidence to fully understand the risks and benefits of screening for older women.

“Our risk of breast cancer increases with age – and early detection is vital in ensuring that the disease is detected at more treatable stages. It’s promising that screening was able to detect early stage invasive cancers in this US study, helping more women avoid extensive treatment, but we need to know more about the potential risks too.

“In England, trials are ongoing to understand whether women up to age 73 could benefit from routine screening. If successful, this could see the Breast Screening Programme extended to women up to age 73 and could open the door to further trials for older age groups. In the meantime, we’d urge all women to check their breasts regularly and visit their GP if they notice any unusual changes.

“We’d encourage all women to attend screening when invited, and it’s vital that all women over 70 know they can still self-refer for a mammogram every three years if they’d like to. If you’d like to discuss any potential risks and benefits of screening, please speak to your doctor.”

 

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