Researchers at the University of California found that screening women between the ages of 66 and 74 every two years instead of annually does not increase the likelihood that the women will be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer.
Moreover, getting a biennial mammogram reduces the likelihood of false-positive results in older women, which occurred in 48 percent of the women getting an annual mammogram between the ages of 66 and 74, researchers said.
Scientists participating in the study analyzed screening data for 2,993 women between the ages of 66 and 89 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as 137,949 women between the same ages who did not have breast cancer.
The study "fills an important information gap, since accountable care organizations do not address screening intervals or screening cessation in women of advanced age or with a significant burden of illness," said study co-author Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., in a statement.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women get a mammogram every year, starting at the age of 40 and continuing each year as long as they are in good health.
As indicated in the new study, however, older women may now forego having an annual mammogram so long as they get one at least every two years.
"They get no added benefit from annual screening, and face almost twice the false-positives and biopsy recommendations, which may cause anxiety and inconvenience," said senior study author Karla Kerlikowske, M.D., in a statement.