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Breast Cancer and the Elderly

(9/10/14)- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval to General Electric Co., to market its 3-D breast imaging technology in which Hologic Inc.ís product is the predominant product.

This process, which is also known as tomosynthesis, combines X-rays taken from multiple angles to produce a more accurate picture than regular mammograms. Studies have found that using this equipment is more accurate in finding breast tumors, with fewer false alarms being thrown off. Some medical facilities may charge $50 to $75 more for the usage of this equipment.

(7/15/08)- The risk of breast cancer increases with age, and yet there is no clear-cut answer as to how often women over 75 years of age should subject themselves to mammograms. There is very little data on this subject so the guidelines are inconsistent.

The American Geriatrics Society recommends mammograms every two to three years for women over 75 if life expectancy is at least 4 years, while the American Cancer Society recommends mammograms for all women over 40 every year.

A recent study that tried to assess the usefulness of mammography for women over 80 found that very few women in this age group, 22%, underwent regular screenings for breast cancer. Among those that did undergo the test the screening found the cancer early enough so that the women could avoid a mastectomy and survive at least five years.

Many medical professionals feel that there are more important illnesses in elderly women than breast cancer that should get greater attention than cancer screenings. These include illnesses such as high blood pressure, low mobility, depression, chronic pain and impaired vision and hearing.

The mammography study, published in May in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looked at the records of more than 12,000 patients aged 80 and older who were given diagnoses of breast cancer from 1996 to 2002. Among the women who were given mammography exams every year or two, 68% found the cancer at an early stage, compared with 33% of those who skipped mammograms altogether.

Five years after the breast cancer diagnosis, 75% of the frequent screened women were alive, compared with only 48% of those who had not been screened for at least five years before their cancer was found.

About 17% of breast cancer are discovered in women over the age of 80

"A woman who's 70 still has close to 19 years of life left on average," said Robert A. Smith, the director of screening for the American Geriatric Society.

FOR AN INFORMATIVE AND PERSONAL ARTICLE ON PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS WHEN SELECTING A NURSING HOME SEE OUR ARTICLE "Selecting a Nursing Home"

By Allan Rubin
Update September 10 , 2014

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