In JAMA this week, researchers from the US and Europe report a study on the association between age at diagnosis and disease-specific mortality in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. The team analyzed data from 9,766 patients. They found that disease-specific mortality increased with increasing age of the patients, with women 75 years or older displaying the most disease-specific mortality. "Similarly, breast cancer relapse increased with age for patients aged 65-74 years and patients aged 75 years or older," the authors write. "Among postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, increasing age was associated with a higher disease-specific mortality."
Also in JAMA this week, Virginia Commonwealth University's Steven Woolf and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Russell Harris comment on the harms that can be done by excessive disease screening, particularly for cancer. While trials show that early detection of various cancers can reduce their mortality rate, screening can also cause physical complications, anxiety, over-diagnosis, and potentially needless tests and treatments, Woolf and Harris write. Screening guidelines are now being revised to reduce the risk of those possible harms, and doctors are being urged to be cautious. "It is not possible to predict whether greater awareness of harms will dampen patients' enthusiasm for dubious screening tests," the authors add. "However, society's first concern should be to confirm that screening is a net good for public health."