True or False: Are Mammograms Necessary For Older Women?

Posted by Hilary Young on October 03, 2016

True or False: Are Mammograms Necessary For Older Women?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you’re likely to hear a lot of stories on the news about the importance of getting a regular mammogram screening if you’re over the age of 40. But very little is spoken about mammogram recommendations for older women. In fact, there is varied information from experts about whether or not mammograms are necessary for older women.

So, what is true and what is false?

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True: A Regular Mammogram Screening Can Save Your Life

The breast cancer awareness nonprofit, Susan G. Komen, says that there are clear-cut life saving benefits of regular a mammogram screening for women between the ages of 50 and 69. They even list these statistics that break down the effectiveness of mammograms by age group:

  • Women ages 50-59 who got mammograms on a regular basis had a 14 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer than their peers who did not get mammograms.
  • Women ages 60-69 who got mammograms on a regular basis had a 33 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer than their peers who did not get mammograms.

False: There Is No Benefit to A Mammogram Screening Over The Age of 75

A 2014 study published in JAMA claimed that doctors should focus on life expectancy for older female patients before making mammogram recommendations. The study included a review of scientific studies by experts at University of California, San Francisco and Harvard Medical Schools, which suggested that there was no evidence that mammograms were necessary for older women.

Other research,, however, has found that there is no maximum breast cancer screening age and that women of all ages can benefit from regular mammograms. In fact, another study from 2014 that was published in the journal, Radiology, analyzed data from 1,162 women aged 75 and older who were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1990 to 2011. They found that between 2010 and 2011 70 percent of cancers were detected by a mammogram.

True: Women Aged 50 And Over Should Get Mammograms Every One to Two Years

The American Cancer Association recommends that women over the age of 50 get a mammogram screening every one to two years for early detection of breast cancer. Dr. Michael Simon of Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit presented data at the annual meeting of American Association for Cancer Research to support that claim:

“Women 75 and older who had an interval of 2 to 5 years between their last mammogram and a breast cancer diagnosis had an 87% increased risk of death from breast cancer compared with those who had mammograms at 6 months to 1 year before diagnosis.”

Taking preventative measures to ensure your health and wellness as you age could end up saving your life. Investing in a Medical Guardian medical alert device before you think you might need one is a way to become proactive about aging safely and could end up keeping you living an independent lifestyle longer.


TAGS: mammogram screening mammogram recommendations breast cancer screening age