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Regular Mammograms not a Good Idea for Older Women

Update Date: Feb 07, 2013 07:51 AM EST
Mammograms
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It is often said that prevention is better than cure, however, over-cautiousness might not be so beneficial after all. A recent study finds that doing a mammogram frequently might not be such a good idea for older women.

The research was led by Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and the study was published in the journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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The American Cancer Society recommends mammogram once a year. However, the study finds it might suffice for once in two years test for most women to prevent breast cancer.

The study supports the recommendation made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force of mammogram once in two years for women between the age of 50 and 74. This task force is an advisory panel of the federal government on health-related issues. According to it, breast cancer causes second highest mortality in the women of the U.S. And increasing awareness and ease of detection can go a long way to reduce the death risks.

Breast cancer centers mostly around the milk ducts of the breasts, and the early symptoms include a lump near the armpits which helps to detect most of the breast cancer cases. A mammogram is a process where low-energy X-rays are used to diagnose breast cancer in the early stages.

In the research, the data of mammograms done between 1999 and 2006 was taken, which covered over 140,000 women between the ages of 66 and 89. The frequency of the mammograms was, for some, annually and for some others, once in every two years.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that even considering the different elements like age, race, and the place where they stay, having a mammogram annually did not reduce these women's vulnerability of being detected with advanced breast cancer.

"Screening every other year, as opposed to every year, does not increase the probability of late-stage breast cancer in older women. Moreover, the presence of other illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease made no difference in the ratio of benefit to harm," Braithwaite said in a University news release.

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