One of my caregiver friends provides transportation assistance to and from doctor appointments for a senior woman in her early eighties who suffers from a number of health issues that include chronic back pain that resulted from multiple auto accidents, asthma, and high blood pressure. Plus, as a breast cancer survivor, yearly mammograms, specialty scans, and regular oncology appointments are part of the woman’s annual routine.
This prompted me to think about our female clients at Home Helpers and those who do NOT get regular mammograms, even though they may still be at risk for breast cancer.
Is early detection of breast cancer important for senior women in Clearwater, and do treatment options exist if breast cancer is diagnosed?
An article by Brenda Lyle with Florida Today states, “The median age of a breast cancer diagnosis is 62 and nearly 20 percent of women diagnosed are over the age of 75, according to the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results registry. Yet the answer on how and when to screen and treat elderly women for breast cancer remains, ‘it depends.’"
It depends on a senior woman’s risk factors which include:
- Women who give birth to their first child before age 30 are at lower risk.
- Post-menopausal women who use hormone replacement therapy with estrogen and progesterone have an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Women who drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day are at one to one-and-a-half greater risk than women who do not drink.
- Women who are overweight or obese are more susceptible to the disease.
- Women who lactate and breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer.
“While aging may bring a welcome end to some things for women, the risk of breast cancer is not one of them,” Lyle said.
The decision to get mammograms or not to get them after a certain age depends on the woman and the conversations she has with her primary care provider.
My friend’s client is 80+ years old, and she chooses to continue getting mammograms in case breast cancer is detected in her remaining breast and another mastectomy is necessary.
Conversely, for senior women with cognitive decline, like my friend’s late paternal grandmother, breast cancer will likely NOT be their final cause of death, so mammograms are probably not going to be doctor-recommended.
Regardless of age or individual circumstances, mammograms – X-rays of the breasts – are key for the early detection of breast cancer.
“In 2021, the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology published new guidelines on surveillance mammography for breast cancer survivors over 75. It stresses an individualized approach that factors in the risks/benefits of continuing mammograms, the individual's overall health status and life expectancy.”
In terms of treatment options, the article continued, “Some treatments may cause side effects that are difficult for older patients to tolerate. Other health conditions can be present. And access to treatment itself can be influenced by socio-economic factors, or be an issue for older women who are caregivers.”
What this says to me is that treatments like mastectomy, chemotherapy, or radiation may cause more harm than good for senior women and aging caregivers negatively impacting their overall quality of life.
“Age alone cannot be a deciding factor in whether or not women seek screening or treatment for breast cancer,” Lyle writes.
Of course, senior women should have a dialogue with their doctor about the benefits of mammography and specific treatment options if breast cancer is detected, as well as research breast cancer resources to make the most informed decisions.
If I can help provide resources to aid in your decision-making process, do not hesitate to reach out to me at Home Helpers® Clearwater. I employ amazing, compassionate caregivers who help senior women every day, and each one of them is ready, willing, and able to help you with transportation assistance to and from doctor appointments, mammograms, and treatments for breast cancer, This also includes assisting with personal care, light housekeeping, respite care for weary family caregivers, and so much more.
I welcome the opportunity to meet you or your senior loved one for a FREE Consultation to identify specific ways we can help. After our discussion, I can develop a customized care plan for our journey together and my Home Helpers® team can begin Making Life Easier℠ for you and your family sooner than later.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ (727) 942-2539.
American Cancer Society