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40% of Medicare Cancer Screenings Are "Medically Unnecessary"

Approximately 40 percent of Medicare spending on common preventive cancer screenings are regarded as medically unnecessary, according to an iWatch News investigation reported in the Huffington Post.

Medicare spent about $1.9 billion on common cancer screenings for people who were older than government-recommended age limits from 2003-2008, according to the iWatch News investigation. The report looked at a six-year sample of Medicare billing records and found that 40 percent of everything Medicare spent on breast, colon, prostate and cervical cancer screenings in that period was medically unnecessary.

More than $31 million of the funding was spent screening people in their 90s, according to the investigation. Breast cancer screening guidelines were disregarded most frequently, with more than 22 million mammogram claims submitted for women over the recommended limit of 75. Over the age of 75, the evidence of benefits of mammography is lacking, according to the report.

For cervical cancer screenings, which the government recommends be stopped at age 65, over 80 percent of Medicare claims were for women over 65.

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