Study: Mammograms still helpful for women over 80

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Regular mammograms for women 80 and older cut the risk of discovering late-stage breast cancer, according to results of a new study. But only 1 in 5 American women in that age group get regular screenings, researchers said.

"This study suggests that mammography benefits may have no age limit and that women should consider being screened on a regular basis, even into their 80s and possibly 90s, depending on their current health status," said study author Brian Badgwell, a surgical oncology fellow at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He and colleagues analyzed data of more than 12,000 women 80 and older.

Cancer detection of early stage cancer was twice the rate for women who had mammograms regularly, compared with those who had none, researchers said. Similarly, diagnosis of Stage II through Stage IV cancers (the worst) were twice as high in the group that had no screenings compared with those who were most diligent, according to a published report.

Women 80 and older account for about 17% of U.S. breast cancer cases. Study results were published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.