Research Digest

Lab notes: Even elderly women should get screened for breast cancer

A quick look at the latest research in medicine.

There is no clear cut-off age at which breast cancer screening should be stopped, a study conducted in the US has found.

The findings of what is said to be “the largest-ever study on screening mammography outcomes“ were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, which is being held this week.

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer, and needs to be followed up by additional tests, such as biopsy, to detect cancer.

Contentious issue

The press release on the study said that the age at which to stop mammography screenings has been a controversial and confusing issue. So far, there was not enough clarity on whether or not women older than 70 or so should get mammographies done, as the pain of this followed by other gruelling check-ups may outweigh the benefits.

In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force released guidelines that said that there was not enough evidence to access the benefits and harms of screening mammography in women who are 75 years of age and older.

For the recently presented study, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, used the National Mammography Database and looked at more than 5.6 million mammograms in 150 facilities across the US, performed over seven years till December 2014. The research team also looked at patient demographics, screening mammography results and the biopsy results.

“This research adds support for guidelines that encourage screening decisions based on individual patients and their health status,” the press release issued by the Radiological Society said.

“All prior randomised, controlled trials excluded women older than 75, limiting available data to small observational studies,” said Dr Cindy S Lee, from the University of California in the press release.

The study led by Dr Lee found continuing increase in the cancer detection rate and positive predictive value (for those women for who a biopsy was recommended or performed) in women between the ages of 75 and 90.

The other collaborators of the study, apart from Dr Lee include Dr Debapriya Sengupta, Mythreyi Bhargaven-Chatfield, Dr Edward Sickles, Dr Elizabeth Burnside, Judy Burleson, and Dr Margarita Zuley.

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Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

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Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

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Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

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Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

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