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Breast Cancer Screening Not for Everyone

Frail, elderly women gain little benefit, study suggests

Breast cancer screening is routine once a woman reaches a certain age, usually 40. And that screening saves lives when the disease is caught early.

But a story on the Orlando Sentinel's Web site says a new study suggests that sometimes the testing isn't always appropriate. That's the case when frail, elderly women are urged to undergo testing.

In the study, presented at the Chicago meeting of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco found that women near the end of their lives who were diagnosed with breast cancer were just as likely to die from other causes.

Dr. Louise Walter, who presented the study findings, says, "In many of these cases, a frail older woman spends the last several months of her life dealing with the trauma of testing positive for breast cancer and being treated, when it turns out the disease wouldn't have affected her life anyway because she already had a life-limiting illness."

For more information on breast cancer, check out the American Cancer Society's Breast Cancer Resource Center.

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