If you had ANY routine procedure scheduled for right around now, you’ve probably gotten a phone call.
“Why don’t we reschedule this for summer?”
Doctors are overwhelmed dealing with COVID-19 coronavirus. And if you DON’T have the infection, a medical clinic is the perfect place to pick it up and bring it home, where it can make you and your loved ones sick.
So in many parts of the country, people are kicking the non-essential stuff forward a few months down the road. And for some ladies, that’s produced one tiny silver lining in this ominous pandemic cloud.
Because it could give you a chance to reevaluate… and maybe even CANCEL… what just might be the least necessary procedure for older women.
That’s the mammogram, as new research reveals how many OLDER women in particular simply don’t need this procedure.
In fact, in some cases, it’s MORE likely to hurt… and UNLIKELY to help.
Older women may NOT need mammograms
The new study confirms what you’ve read right here in Healthier Talk before. In general, the older you get, the lower the benefit of a mammogram.
And once you pass a certain age, there’s almost no point at all.
In this case, researchers from Harvard University found the cutoff is 75. Once you’re north of that, the tests are pretty much pointless.
It’s not that they don’t spot cancers. It’s just the opposite. They do. They find a LOT of cancers… detecting the disease at a significantly higher rate in women between 75 and 84 than they do in younger women.
But here’s the thing. All that extra detection leads to more painful and aggressive treatments. But it DOESN’T lead to more lives saved.
The researchers found NO mortality benefit at all. And not just immediately following those screenings.
Over EIGHT YEARS, they found NO CHANGE in the death rate from breast cancer between older women screened with mammograms and older women who were not.
That’s almost certainly because most breast cancers tend to grow slowly, and when you’re past 75, that means you’re much more likely to die of something else before the cancer gets you.
Question routine screenings
Of course, plenty of other studies have made the same point.
One study last year even found that women past the age of 65 are 90 TIMES more likely to die of something OTHER THAN breast cancer. And past 75, women are 123 TIMES more likely to die of other causes.
Yet despite a growing stack of research showing how mammograms are unnecessary… and even harmful… for many women of a certain age, half of all women past 75 continue to get routine mammograms.
This, of course, doesn’t mean no one should ever be screened, tested, or treated. But it DOES mean routine mammograms for a woman with no signs or symptoms should be questioned past a certain age.
Talk to your doctor about your specific risk factors and make sure you understand ALL of your options before you make any decisions or reschedule that mammogram.