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Mammograms May Be Overused in Women With Dementia

February 4, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Some elderly women with dementia may be getting regular mammograms even though the screenings may never do them any good, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Depending on a woman’s overall health, the risks of mammograms and subsequent procedures can sometimes outweigh the tests’ benefits. Because of this, the American Cancer Society and other groups say any woman with a life expectancy of less than four to five years should not be given mammogram screening. The guidelines do not address dementia.

Scientists in the study evaluated data from more than 355 women with dementia, all of whom had a life expectancy of just over three years. Of these, 18 percent had had a recent mammogram screening.  Half of the women were married with a net worth of more than $100,000.

Researchers aren’t sure why the mammograms were still being performed, although they guess that it had to do with family preferences.  They also theorize that some doctors may continue to order the tests because there are no clear guidelines for women with dementia. This study shows the need for such guidelines, the study authors say.

Related Seminar: Pittsburgh Breast Imaging

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