Breast Cancer Screenings for Older Women May Do More Harm Than Good

A new study by Dutch researchers at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands found that women ages 70 and older may not benefit from having breast cancer screenings. According to the Daily Mail the Dutch study tracked 25,414 new cases of breast cancer that were diagnosed between 1995 and 2011 in women between the ages of 69 and 75. 

Researchers found that the breast cancer screenings did not lead to a large decline in the number of in advanced cases. The source stated that while there was a drop in the number of new cases of advanced-stage breast cancer​ in older women, the national screening program in the Netherlands did not lead to significant changes in detection of the disease among women in that age range.

According to the Daily Mail, women between the ages of 69 and 75 who go in for breast cancer screenings may be over diagnosed with cancer. Researchers said that there were 20 extra cases of over diagnosis in the group of cases studied, which meant that women with small tumors that would not have seen an impact on their life expectancy were told they had cancer and underwent treatment such as chemotheraphy, surgery and radiotherapy.

In the U.S., women between the ages of 40 and 49 should talk to their health care provider before going in for a mammogram. Annual mammograms are recommended beginning at age 40 but can be pushed back if the risk for breast cancer is low. The Daily Mail also stated that women who are age 75 and older are not recommended to have a breast cancer screening done as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force doesn't have enough evidence stating a screening is beneficial. 

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