The American Journal of Public Health published a study looking at elderly women with severe dementia who are receiving mammograms despite recommendations that this group should not be subject to this medical procedure.
Current guidelines recommend not performing mammograms on persons with a life expectancy of less than five years. The average lifespan for elderly women with severe dementia is 3.3 years, according to the study from the University of California, San Francisco. Researchers found 18% with severe dementia received the exam. That translates to roughly 120,000 unnecessary mammograms per year with a price tag exceeding $12 million.
The ACS guidelines suggest that any cancerous cells found in an elderly woman with severe dementia would likely not grow fast enough to affect life expectancy. The potential harms of the procedureÛÓsuch as diverting time and resources away from therapies that could actually improve quality of lifeÛÓoutweigh the benefits, according to report authors.