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  • Cameron Oglesby

Are you to old to need breast mammograms?

The answer is a definite maybe.

For certain women over 70, the risks of overdiagnosis and treatment may outweigh the risks of cancer, according to a study just published in the Annals of Medicine.

The study included almost 55,000 women aged 70 and up who had been recently tested for breast cancer. It found that the risk of overdiagnosis increased with age. Specifically, it found that 31% of women aged 70 to 74, and 47% of women 74 to 84, were considered overdiagnsed. The risk of overdiagnosis in women 85 and older was even higher.

“Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer typically undergo treatments including surgery, and possibly radiation chemotherapy and long-term medications,” said Dr. Ilahna Richman, of Yale Health Center, the study’s author. “What this means is that some women end up getting these relatively intensive treatments for a breast cancer that would have never caused symptoms.”

Dr. Marisa Weiss, founder of Breastcancer.org, disagrees. Women who’ve lived to 70 or older are likely to live a lot longer, and, she says, they “know that there are risks with each procedure, and are often willing to take the risk of overdiagnosis to avoid the risk of underdiagnosis.”

And Dr. Catherine Sarkisian, a geriatrician at the UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, says, before deciding, “older women should have personalized talks with their physicians about the risks and benefits of screening that take into account their life expectancy, [and] personal values around risk aversion.”

At Senior Insights, we’ve found all three. Our complete, three-part study of how a woman reacts to medical diagnoses, among other things, reveals all that and more. It becomes the basis of our holistic senior health plan which covers every aspect of senior’s care, from her medical likes and aversions to her hopes, values, and interests.

Contact us to lean more about healthcare that's right for you.

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