How Often Should I Get A Mammogram?

Posted on August 11, 2016

 

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There's quite a bit of conflicting information about how often you should get a mammogram. Unfortunately, there's no clear-cut answer. It simply depends on your situation and your comfort level.

Mammograms for the "Average" Woman

If you are not at high risk of breast cancer -- meaning you don't have a close relative who has had breast cancer -- you can probably start screening mammograms at age 50. You should get a mammogram every two years until you reach the age of 74 when medical experts generally agree you can stop.

These recommendations were made in 2016 by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an expert group that reviews the latest research findings. The panel felt the recommendation to have an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 did more harm than good since yearly screenings exposed women to radiation unnecessarily. The American College of Physicians has made the same recommendation. Other organizations offer similar recommendations:

  • The American Cancer Society recommends women have an annual mammogram between the ages of 45 and 54 with mammograms every other year thereafter. Learn more about the ACS recommendations on our blog.
  • The National Center for Health Research's Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund has recommended women have a mammogram at the age of 45 and, if it's normal, wait until the age of 50 to have it repeated.

If You're at Risk

If you're at high risk of developing breast cancer, you may need to get mammograms more often. If your mother or sister has had breast cancer, you may want to start getting mammograms at age 40 or possibly earlier if your relative was young when diagnosed or if you have other risk factors like obesity or dense breast tissue. Mammograms can be repeated every two years between the ages of 40 and 50. After the age of 50, the risk of developing breast cancer increases significantly so it's best to work with your doctor to plan a mammogram schedule.

If You Find a Lump

If you discover a lump in your breast, you should have a mammogram immediately, regardless of your age or when you had your last mammogram. Remember -- when it comes to cancer, early detection saves lives. Contact a PBMC Health physician if you find a lump. He or she will refer you to the Grossman Imaging Center for the appropriate diagnostic test and follow-up treatment at a Long Island medical center.

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