Mammogram use in elderly influenced by age and race

Study findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicate that the decision to screen elderly women for breast cancer is influenced by age and race, as well as health status.

Suspecting that under- and overuse of mammography may occur because of these factors, Julie Bynum (Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA) and co-authors suggest: "Assessment of life expectancy may more accurately identify women who could benefit from screening."

A lack of data on the use of screening mammography among elderly women has resulted in uncertainty about who to screen. To investigate whether physicians and patients use health status to guide these decisions, the team examined patterns of mammography use among a nationally representative sample of US female Medicare beneficiaries with respect to risk of death, age, and race.

In all, data for 722,310 women aged 65 years and older were collated. When stratified into quintiles according to propensity to die, 2-year screening rates were higher in women in the lowest risk group compared with those in the highest, at 61% versus 42%.

After adjusting for the propensity to die, the screening rates remained higher in women aged 65 to 69 years than in those aged 85 years or older (42% vs 26%).

In addition, "adjusted screening rates for White women, Black women, and women of other races were 40%, 30%, and 25%, respectively," the team reports.

"Physicians should be aware that age, though important, is only one component of predicting life expectancy and mammogram benefit," Bynum et al write. MORE
http://www.breastcancersource.com/breastcancersourceHCP/6096_18344___.aspx


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