Women Ages 75 and Older with Chronic Illnesses Unlikely to Benefit from Continued Screening

BCSC investigators explore the benefits of screening mammography in women age 75 and older

Posted by Josh Demb, PhD at 3:35 PM on Sep 9, 2019


In the JNCI article published September 6, 2019, entitled, “Screening mammography outcomes: risk of breast cancer and mortality by comorbidity score and age”, Dr. Demb and BCSC investigators aimed to identify subgroups of older women ages 75 and older who are unlikely to benefit from screening mammography.  Current clinical guidelines indicate that there is little evidence available to guide recommendations for whether or not women in this age group should screen, particularly women who have chronic illnesses.  To this end, the investigators compared the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and the risk of dying from breast cancer with the risk of dying from a non-breast cancer-related cause.  The study findings showed that while risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer begins to decrease slightly after age 75, the risk of dying from non-breast cancer causes increases dramatically with age, particularly among women who have other chronic illnesses.  This means that women ages 75 and older with chronic illnesses are unlikely to benefit from continuing to undergo screening mammograms, as their risk of dying from non-breast cancer causes vastly outweighs the risk of being diagnosed with or dying from breast cancer.  Moreover, these findings also underscore the need for more individualized screening strategies in women ages 75 and older and could inform the creation of tools that women could use to develop optimal screening strategies with their health care providers. 

Full Text Citation and Link: Demb J, Abraham L, Miglioretti DL, Sprague BL, O’Meara ES, Advani S, Henderson LM, Onega T, Buist DSM, Schousboe JT, Walter LC, Kerlikowske K, Braithwaite D. Screening mammography outcomes: risk of breast cancer and mortality by comorbidity score and age. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst. September 2019. doi:10.1093/jnci/djz172. [Link to Article]


Study highlighted in the following media sources:

One of JNCI's most shared articles of 2019: https://academic.oup.com/jnci/pages/The-most-shared-articles-of-2019

AuntMinnie.com: https://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=wom&pag=dis&ItemID=126451

Medical Xpress: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-09-mammography-benefit-older-women-chronic.html

Eureka Alert!: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-09/gumc-mut083019.php

McKnight's Long-Term Care News: https://www.mcknights.com/news/mammograms-likely-a-moot-point-for-most-nursing-home-residents-researchers-discover/ 

Health Care Business News: https://www.dotmed.com/news/story/48470

Science Codex: https://www.sciencecodex.com/mammography-unlikely-benefit-older-women-chronic-illnesses-633368

Docwire: https://www.docwirenews.com/docwire-pick/hem-onc-picks/mammograms-not-necessary-in-older-women-with-chronic-comorbidities/

Contemporary OB/GYN: https://www.contemporaryobgyn.net/mammography/does-mammography-have-benefit-older-women-chronic-illnesses

Posted by: Josh Demb, PhD