When should women stop getting mammograms?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – We’ve all heard the guidelines regarding when a woman should start getting a mammogram, but at what age should they stop?

News 4 spoke with Dr. Ermelinda Bonaccio, the Clinical Chief of Breast Imaging at Roswell Park Cancer Institute for answers.

“We know that about 24 percent of breast cancer deaths occur in women over age 75. The risk of having the cancer continues to increase in older women,” Dr. Bonaccio said.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released its final recommendations. It states that women at an average risk for breast cancer should have a mammogram every other year from age 50 to 74. However, for women over 75, the group says there’s not enough evidence to recommend for or against mammograms, because that age group hasn’t been studied enough.

“There haven’t been studies looking at whether there is a benefit in women over age 75. Most of the studies were done with women ages 40 to 74,” Dr. Bonaccio said.

However, the American Cancer Society says women should continue mammograms as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of at least 10 more years.

Dr. Bonaccio said patients should talk to their doctor about this. “Have this conversation with a primary care doctor because we don’t have data to absolutely confirm it. We have data to suggest that there is a benefit, but it also depends on your other health issues.”

If a woman over 75 is diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Bonaccio suggests that the patient and their medical team should examine their prior conditions and create the best treatment plan so the patient can have survive and have a good quality of life.

“That is what we’re trying to balance. What are the risks of them dying from the breast cancer, versus their other health problems. And that’s what we sit down as a team and help them figure out.”

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