Marsha Anderson was 63 when her annual mammogram picked up early breast cancer. "It had not spread to lymph nodes so a lumpectomy took care of what needed to be removed," she said.
Now a new study suggests some older women can be screened for breast cancer every two years without increasing their chances of developing advanced disease.
"For women who were above the age of 50 between 50 and 74 having mammograms done every other year did not appear to expose women for the risk of later diagnosis for breast cancer," said Dr. Freya Schnabel with NYU's Langone Medical Center.
Researchers also found mammograms every two years in older women could lower their risk of false positive results, which can trigger unnecessary biopsies. The report did show that women in their 40s with extremely dense breasts should consider annual screening to reduce their chances of later stage breast cancers. But the report did not take into account other risk factors.
"For women with dense breasts and especially women with extensive risk in their background, some of these analysis really don't apply well," Dr. Schnabel said.
There are more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer every year. Dr. Otis Brawley, with the American Cancer Society said his group is not changing its screening guidelines based on this study. "We're going to continue recommending for now mammography on an annual basis beginning at the age of 40 all the way through age 75," he said.
Marsha Anderson said annual screening saved her life. "I would say do it once a year and be safer," she said. She doesn't want to think about what could have happened if she wasn't getting her mammogram every year.
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