Women over 75 may not benefit from regular mammograms

Evidence is clear that regular mammograms for women in their 50s and 60s decrease breast cancer deaths. But it has been less certain whether the benefits of screening older women outweigh the risks, such as overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

A study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently found that among women who received mammograms every 15 months, there was a modest reduction in breast cancer deaths over a 10-year period at ages 70 to 74 compared to those who were not getting regular mammograms—but not at ages 75 to 84. While more cancer was detected in the older group, the researchers said that the lack of a mortality benefit could be because the spread of disease and the effectiveness of treatment are different at different ages. Older people are also more likely to have other serious health conditions.

Lead author Xabier Garcia-De-Albeniz, research associate in the Department of Epidemiology, said in a February 25, 2020 interview with MedicalResearch.com, “Future research can focus on identifying women that may benefit most from screening based on factors other than age.”

Read MedicalResearch.com interview: After age 75 mammograms may not decrease chance of dying of breast cancer

Read a New York Times article: Aging out of the mammogram

Read a Reuters article: Mammograms not helpful in women 75 and older, study finds