An eye opening study finds 50 percent of eligible women -- even with health insurance, are not getting mammograms. Low-cost mammograms are available in most communities. For more information, call 1-800-227-2345 and press option 1.
The National Cancer Institute estimates almost 208,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost 50,000 women will die of the disease.
The American Cancer Society recommends for early breast cancer detection women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
Mammograms also have limitations. A mammogram will miss some cancers, and it sometimes leads to follow up of findings that are not cancer, including biopsies.
Women should be told about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked with regular screening. Mammograms can miss some cancers. But despite their limitations, they remain a very effective and valuable tool for decreasing suffering and death from breast cancer.
Mammograms for older women should be based on the individual, her health, and other serious illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and moderate-to-severe dementia. Age alone should not be the reason to stop having regular mammograms. As long as a woman is in good health and would be a candidate for treatment, she should continue to be screened with a mammogram.