Health care professionals all agree that women should begin breast cancer screening by age 40. While this general rule applies to the majority of women, the age that women should stop their annual mammograms continues to be under debate. Some experts have argued that there is insufficient evidence to prove that breast screening for women 75 and older could be beneficial based on their current age and life expectancy. Other experts believe that older women can benefit from annual mammograms based on the knowledge that the risk of breast cancer increases as we age.
A new study suggests that there is no reason to skip annual mammograms; that regardless of the age of the individual, the decision to screen should be based on their individual health rather than specific age groups. Many health insurance agencies in the United States cover the cost of screening mammograms and according to data from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), women should receive their mammogram at least once every two years to lower their risk of dying from breast cancer.
Discovering a Trend for the Detection of Cancer
A recent study used data provided by the American College of Radiology Mammography Database which compiled information on approximately 6 million screening mammograms performed in the United States on women between the ages of 40 to 90 years old, over a six year period. The study provided some unexpected results. The data discovered that the patients ages and screening results, indicated that the rate of breast cancer detected increased with the age of the patients. Many doctors agree that the results of the study merely support that the rate of cancer detection increases significantly with age along with the fact that breast cancer has long since proven to be a disease associated with older women. It should also be noted that the new study indicates that mammograms are an extremely effective tool than can improve in performance levels as women age.
The Recommendation to Stop Breast Cancer Screening Should Be an Individual Decision
The new study also supports the fact that breast cancer screening is extremely effective in pinpointing the disease in older women while also offering information that has not been addressed in previous research studies. For example some organizations recommended that breast cancer screening continue until a woman has a life expectancy of less than ten years. The average life expectancy for a woman in the United States is 82 which would indicate that screening should cease at age 72. Many doctors agree that the decision to stop screening should be based on the individual’s health history as more and more women in their 80’s are not only in extremely good health but they have a life expectancy of 10 years or more. Many doctors with practices that have a majority of older patients wishing to continue screening mammograms believe that they should be both encouraged and supported in their endeavor to seek appropriate consultations and care.