(HealthDay News) — For women aged 75 years or older, continuing annual breast cancer screening does not result in significant reductions in eight-year breast cancer mortality compared with stopping screening, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Xabier García-Albéniz, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues estimated the effect of breast cancer screening on breast cancer mortality in Medicare beneficiaries aged 70 to 84 years in an observational study of two screening strategies: continuing annual mammography and stopping screening. Participants included 1,058,013 Medicare beneficiaries with a life expectancy of at least 10 years and no previous breast cancer diagnosis.

The researchers found that the estimated difference in eight-year risk for breast cancer death between continuing and stopping screening was −1.0 death per 1,000 women aged 70 to 74 years (hazard ratio, 0.78; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.63 to 0.95). The corresponding risk difference was 0.07 deaths per 1,000 women for those aged 75 to 84 years (hazard ratio, 1.00; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.83 to 1.19).

“The reduced benefit in older women is consistent with the hypothesis that competing causes of death, such as cardiovascular or neurologic conditions, overtake breast cancer mortality with increasing age,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to industry.

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