10 Aug Mammograms Benefits Older and Younger Women
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Malmgren: We found a significant shift to lower stage breast cancer at diagnosis with an observed increase in mammography detected breast cancer over time and a significant decrease in later stage cancers found by the patient or her doctor.
Mammography detected breast cancers were more often treated with lumpectomy and radiation and less likely to require mastectomy or adjuvant chemotherapy.
We also observed better 5 year invasive breast cancer specific survival among the mammography detected patients as opposed to the patient or physician detected breast cancer cases.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Malmgren: We were surprised to find such a big difference in breast cancer specific survival looking at invasive cancer only indicating it is advantageous to have an early stage mammography detected breast cancer and disadvantageous to have a late stage patient or physician detected breast cancer in women 75 and older. The primary driver of this difference is the inability of older women to withstand the advanced cancer treatments.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Malmgren: Breast cancer risk goes up with advancing age. With breast density no longer an issue at older ages, mammography screening can find early more easily treatable breast cancer and reduce a woman’s risk of difficult treatment for advanced disease or death from breast cancer that is diagnosed by the patient or her doctor at a more advanced stage. The benefits of mammography screening, diagnosis of breast cancer at an early more treatable stage, seen in younger women appear to extend to women 75 years and older.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Malmgren: I would like to see an evaluation of a larger population of older women with information on participation in mammography screening programs to confirm our results.