Mammograms Overused in Elderly Dementia Patients, Study Finds

1 February 2010 (Last Updated February 1st, 2010 18:30)

Some elderly women with severe cognitive impairment in the US are receiving mammography breast cancer screening even though guidelines state that the risks may outweigh the benefits. Although there is no age limit set for mammogram screening, for patients with serious medical conditions

Some elderly women with severe cognitive impairment in the US are receiving mammography breast cancer screening even though guidelines state that the risks may outweigh the benefits.

Although there is no age limit set for mammogram screening, for patients with serious medical conditions, the risks of screening and any subsequent invasive tests and treatments may outweigh the benefits, the study said.

Among more than 2,100 US women age 70 and older, 18% of those with advanced cognitive impairment had received a screening mammogram in the past two years, researchers said.

The screening rate among women with normal cognition was 45%, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health said.

Guidelines set out by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other groups have said that women with a life expectancy of fewer than four to five years should not have mammography screening.

In November, the US Preventive Services Task Force, a government advisory panel, also issued guidelines saying that women in their 40s who are at average risk of breast cancer do not need routine mammograms, according to Reuters.