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Women's Magazines Misrepresent Breast Cancer Risk

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"And those are not doctors that would tell them to get a mammogram," she says. And while Medicare covers screening mammography, a large number of women don't take advantage of it, she says.

"In fact, we were considering a campaign targeting those doctors, saying de facto, 'You are the primary care physicians of older women.' It would make so much sense for those physicians to inquire at least about regular testing these women should be getting."

Tumors are generally slow-growing in women over 65 -- and breast tissue generally has changed to a fatty tissue that makes tumors very visible on mammograms -- so women may not require annual visits, Schellenbach tells WebMD. "It's not a recommendation we make right now, but there has been some discussion."

Older women with breast cancer -- even women in their 80s and older -- "should be treated as aggressively as their own personal health would indicate," she says. "Unless there are serious competing medical problems, they do very well with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy."

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