At Mayo Clinic,
mammograms are offered to women beginning at 40 and continuing
annually. When to begin mammogram screening and how often to
repeat it is a personal decision based on your preferences.
recommends women and their health care providers discuss the
benefits, risks and limitations of mammograms and decide
together what is best. Balancing the benefits of screening
with the limitations and risks is a key part of deciding when
to begin mammograms and how often to repeat them.
organizations agree on breast cancer screening guidelines, but
most emphasize meeting with your health care provider to
review the risks, limitations and benefits of mammograms in
order to determine what's right for your particular situation.
the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force mammogram guidelines
recommend women begin screening at 50 and the American Cancer
Society recommends women begin screening at 45. But both of
these organizations acknowledge that beginning screening at 40
may make sense for some women after considering the benefits
and limitations of the test.
health care providers continue to review studies about
mammogram guidelines to understand what the studies mean for
women's health. Changes to mammogram guidelines might or might
not be necessary in the future, as researchers continue
studying this topic.
supports screening beginning at 40 because screening
mammograms can detect breast abnormalities early in women in
their 40s. Findings from randomized trials of women in their
40s and 50s have demonstrated that screening mammograms
decrease breast cancer deaths by 15 to 29 percent.
screening isn't perfect. Another study concluded that despite
more women being diagnosed with early breast cancer due to
mammogram screening, the number of women diagnosed with
advanced breast cancer hasn't decreased. The study suggested
that some women with early breast cancer were diagnosed with
cancer that may never have affected their health.
it's difficult to distinguish between breast cancers that may
spread beyond the breast and those that will remain confined
to the breast, so annual mammograms remain the best option for
detecting cancer early and reducing the risk of death from
concern about mammograms for breast cancer screening is the
chance of a false positive result. This means that an
abnormality is detected but, after additional testing, it
turns out to not be cancer. This is especially a concern in
younger women in their 40s and 50s, who may be more likely to
have a false positive result.
abnormality is detected on a mammogram, a woman may be asked
to have additional mammogram images taken and, possibly,
additional imaging tests, such as ultrasound. These tests may
determine the abnormality shown on the original mammogram
isn't worrisome for cancer.
In some cases,
it may be necessary for a woman to undergo a biopsy procedure
to remove a sample of breast tissue for testing. For many
women, having a biopsy that confirms there isn't any cancer
present is reassuring and doesn't increase anxiety.
YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
concerned about when to start breast cancer screening and how
often to repeat it, work with your health care provider to
make an informed decision. Together you can decide what's best
for you based on your personal preferences, your medical
history and your individual breast cancer risk.
Talk with your
health care provider about:
personal risk of breast cancer
benefits, risks and limitations of screening mammograms
— The role of
breast self-exams for breast awareness in helping you become
more familiar with your breasts, which may help you identify
abnormalities or changes