In the United States, approximately half of women 75 and older undergo screening mammography. Despite widespread use, the benefits of mammography in this age group remain uncertain, as no randomized trials of mammography have included women over the age of 74. Because breast cancer is an age-related disease, screening may have an important role in reducing breast cancer morbidity and mortality for older women. On the other hand, harms of screening, including overdiagnosis, may also be prevalent among older women. The overarching goal of the proposed research is to help older women who are considering breast cancer screening make more informed decisions. To do this, we will first generate improved estimates of the benefits and harms of screening that reflect the heterogeneity of life expectancy among older women. Using Medicare claims linked to cancer incidence data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program, we will apply state-of-the-art techniques to generate estimates of the mortality benefit of mammography across a range of life expectancies. We will also use SEER data to quantify risk of breast cancer overdiagnosis among women 75 and older, according to life expectancy. Lastly, in collaboration with patients, we will develop and test a decision aid that presents personalized estimates of benefits and harms from breast cancer screening. Our goal is to both generate better data to support decisions and also develop a decision aid as a tool that will allow women to access that data and ultimately make more informed decisions about breast cancer screening. The candidate, Ilana Richman, MD, is a general internist at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Richman is committed to improving our understanding of the effectiveness and value of cancer screening. This proposal will capitalize on Dr. Richman?s foundational training in biostatistics and epidemiology, while providing an opportunity to gain additional skill in gerontologic biostatistics, qualitative methods, and decision aid design and testing. To achieve these goals, Dr. Richman has assembled an experienced multidisciplinary mentorship team. Her primary mentor, Dr. Cary Gross, is a nationally renowned physician investigator with extensive expertise in evaluating cancer outcomes, particularly among older adults. Dr. Gross also brings a track record of exceptional success as a mentor to junior faculty and trainees. Dr. Richman will benefit from the rich environment at Yale, which is home world-class investigators studying cancer screening and prevention, and the health of aging populations. At the conclusion of this award, Dr. Richman will be well positioned to become an independent investigator and a leader committed to improving patient-centered decision-making about cancer screeing.

Public Health Relevance

Whether to continue breast cancer screening after the age of 74 is a complex clinical decision, and the balance of benefits and harms may vary by patient. The goal of this project is to support decision-making for older women who are considering breast cancer screening by generating individualized estimates of key benefits and harms of screening. We will also develop and pilot a decision aid that incorporates these estimates so that individualized information about the risks and benefits of screening is available to older women who are considering breast cancer screening.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
Program Officer
Radaev, Sergey
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Yale University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New Haven
United States
Zip Code