The threat of breast cancer doesn’t go away as we get older and neither does the need to get an annual mammogram. In fact, it can be crucial for older women, according to a recent study.
Researchers found that women over 75 who skipped their annual mammogram for five or more years or who never had one have an increased risk of dying from breast cancer.
The study, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, involved analyzing data from about 8,600 women in the United States who were diagnosed with breast cancer. In this age group, those who were diagnosed five or more years after their last mammogram or had never had a mammogram were three times more likely to die from breast cancer than those who had a mammogram six months to a year before their diagnosis.Overall, an interval of 5 or more years between a woman’s last mammogram and breast cancer diagnosis was associated with advanced-stage disease in 23%, compared with 20% in women with an interval of 1 year or less – a statistically significant difference, which could affect large numbers of women, said Michael Simon, MD, head of the breast multidisciplinary team at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
The American Cancer Society recommends an annual mammogram for women over age 40 and continuing as long as they are in good health.