“It's something I'll do until I die”: A qualitative examination into why older women in the U.S. continue screening mammography

Laura E. Brotzman, Rachel C. Shelton, Jessica D. Austin, Carmen B. Rodriguez, Mariangela Agovino, Nathalie Moise, Parisa Tehranifar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Professional guidelines in the U.S. do not recommend routine screening mammography for women ≥75 years with limited life expectancy and/or poor health. Yet, routine mammography remains widely used in older women. We examined older women's experiences, beliefs, and opinions about screening mammography in relation to aging and health. Methods: We performed thematic analysis of transcribed semi-structured interviews with 19 women who had a recent screening visit at a mammography clinic in New York City (average age: 75 years, 63% Hispanic, 53% ≤high school education). Results: Three main themes emerged: (1) older women typically perceive mammograms as a positive, beneficial, and routine component of care; (2) participation in routine mammography is reinforced by factors at interpersonal, provider, and healthcare system levels; and (3) older women do not endorse discontinuation of screening mammography due to advancing age or poor health, but some may be receptive to reducing screening frequency. Only a few older women reported having discussed mammography cessation or the potential harms of screening with their providers. A few women reported they would insist on receiving mammography even without a provider recommendation. Conclusions: Older women's positive experiences and views, as well as multilevel and frequently automated cues toward mammography are important drivers of routine screening in older women. These findings suggest a need for synergistic patient, provider, and system level strategies to reduce mammography overuse in older women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3854-3862
Number of pages9
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • aging
  • breast cancer
  • de-implementation
  • overscreening
  • qualitative
  • screening mammography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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