Biennial Screening Mammograms Better For Older Women

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Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) showed through their analysis that screening mammograms every alternate year for older women above 65 years is as beneficial as annual exams and may even reduce the false positives. 

Researchers studied patient records from the year 1999 to 2006, between the age group of 66 and 89. It was found that annual screening did not find any more late-stage breast cancer in older women than screening every two years.

Biennial mammography screening is better for older women. Researchers found that 29 per cent of women between the age group of 66 and 74 who underwent screening every two years had false positives whereas 48 per cent of women under the same age group who underwent annual screening had false-positive results.    False-positive results with the annual screening provoke further investigations such as biopsies causing anxiety, inconvenience and psychological distress to the patients.

As the age progress in the older women, the glandular tissue of the breast gets replaced with fatty tissue making mammogram interpretation more accurate. This also helps in the reduction of false-positive diagnosis.

The U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) earlier recommended yearly screening mammogram   for all the women above 40 years. More recently it advised to have routine screening once in two years for healthy women without any symptoms between the age group of 50 and 74, though it could not specify any guidelines for the women above 75 years due to inadequate evidence. Their recommendation for women with a high risk of breast cancer, such as those who have the symptoms or those with strong family history did not change.

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