The efficacy of health screening
women aged 70 to 75 for breast cancer has been underlined by a new study conducted in The Netherlands.
In 1998, the breast cancer screening programme in The Netherlands was extended to include women up to the age of 75, having previously only covered women up to the age of 70.
After analysing figures obtained in the first five years following the programme's extension, Jacques Fracheboud, a senior researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, has concluded that screening has "started to have a statistically significant effect".
"The results of our study suggest that screening women aged 70 to 75 has a strong impact on breast cancer mortality and that it is effective and appropriate up to 75 years," confirmed Mr Fracheboud.
"The cost per mammogram is approximately €50 - the same as for younger women. Before the programme was extended up to 75 there was a fear that older women would be more expensive because fewer would participate and it might take more time to screen them due to reasons such as lower mobility. However this seems not to be case, and participation rose among the older women."
Although most other European countries only offer screening automatically to women up to the age of 70, Catherine Foot, head of policy at Cancer Research UK, has advised that screening is still available on request.