Regular mammograms benefit elderly women, a new study indicates.
Previous research has shown that mammography screening reduces breast cancer deaths among women up to age 74, but there is little information about women older than 74, especially minority women, the Florida Atlantic University researchers explained.
They analyzed Medicare data from 1995 to 2009 on more than 4,800 black women and more than 59,000 white women, all of whom were aged 69 or older.
Among women aged 75 to 84, those who had annual mammograms were less likely to die from breast cancer over a 10-year period than those who had irregular or no mammograms.
Breast cancer patients aged 69 to 84 who had annual mammograms in the four years before their diagnosis had lower five- and 10-year death rates than those who had irregular or no mammograms.
Ten-year death rates among women aged 69 to 84 were three times higher among whites and more than two times higher among blacks who had irregular or no mammogram screening, compared with those who had annual mammograms.
The researchers also found that white women who died of breast cancer were more likely to be older, to have been diagnosed at a later stage and to have received chemotherapy. They were also less likely to have had surgery or have undergone radiation therapy.
The study was published Jan. 6 in the American Journal of Medicine.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American women, affecting one in eight during their lifetime and killing one in 25. In 2010, 41 percent of breast cancer deaths occurred in women aged 65 to 84.
Regular mammography is recommended for women aged 65 to 74, according to the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about mammograms.