Are Mammograms Necessary Yearly?

logo1267406_mdA new study appearing online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that getting a mammogram every two years was just as beneficial as getting one annually, and led to significantly fewer false positive results.  The researchers said “Screening every other year, as opposed to every year, does not increase the probability of late-stage breast cancer in older women. Moreover, the presence of other illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease made no difference in the ration of benefit to harm.”

Data was collected on 2,993 older women with breast cancer and 137,949 women without breast cancer between 1999 and 2006 which was the largest available screening mammogram data set in the United States. Researchers found no difference in rates of late-stage breast cancer between women screened annually and women screened biennially.  However, they did find that 48% of the women between age 66 and 74 who were screened yearly had false positive results compared to 29% in the group who were screened every two years. They concluded that  “Women aged 66 to 74 who choose to undergo screening mammography shoud be screened every two years. They get no added benefit from annual screening, and face almost twice the false positive and biopsy recommendations , which can cause anxiety and inconvenience. “

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