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  • Publication # 14-RA001

A mammogram every 2 years may be as good as a mammogram every year for older women, according to a new registry-based study

Women's Health

Photograph of woman preparing for a mammogram screening.The proper age for women to begin routine mammography screening and how often they should be screened has been a topic of vigorous debate in the United States medical community for a number of years. Similarly, the benefits of frequent screening for breast cancer among older women in the United States have been uncertain. However, a new prospective study reported earlier this year found that older women (aged 66 to 89 years) who were screened with mammography every 2 years had a similar risk of advanced-stage disease as those screened annually and had a lower cumulative risk of false-positive mammograms (48 vs. 29 percent). 

The researchers defined a false-positive as recall for additional mammography or for a biopsy recommendation with no diagnosis of invasive carcinoma or of ductal carcinoma in situ within a year or before the next screening examination. They noted that their findings were not affected by women's coexisting conditions. 

The researchers used data for 1999 through 2006 on women whose providers were part of the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, which they then linked to Medicare claims. The study was funded in part by AHRQ (HS19482). 

More details are in "Screening outcomes in older U.S. women undergoing multiple mammograms in community practice: Does interval, age, or comorbidity score affect tumor characteristics or false positive rates?" by Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., M.S., Weiwei Zhu, M.S., Rebecca Hubbard, Ph.D., and others in the March 6, 2013, Journal of the National Cancer Institute 105(5), pp. 334-341.


Page last reviewed October 2013
Internet Citation: A mammogram every 2 years may be as good as a mammogram every year for older women, according to a new registry-based study: Women's Health. October 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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