Breast Cancer Is Best Caught Early
Breast cancer may not affect the life expectancy in older women, a recent study suggests. Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually and a woman's risk of incurring the disease increases with age. However, when detected with early-stage breast cancer, older woman can expect to live just as long as women without the disease.
Dr. Elena Elkin finds the results of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center study encouraging and adds, "More of the breast cancers we find are very small and diagnosed at an early stage. For older women especially these cancers generally have a favorable diagnosis."
Catching cancer at Stage I is favorable. Older women who were diagnosed with stage II breast cancer or higher did not survive as long as the non-cancer group. Yet an ongoing concern in the health community is whether routine screening for certain cancers actually extends lives in older people, whose life expectancy is likely to be influenced by other health issues, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
Screening might detect cancers that would not decrease a woman's life span and puts her at risk of undergoing invasive procedures. Each woman's decision about getting screened depends on the level of benefit she would receive from catching an early-stage cancer. Therefore Dr. Elkin suggests that an older woman should follow a routine mammogram with a discussion with her physician. The study was published in Monday's edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.