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Breast Cancer and Mammograms


How Often Should I Have a Mammogram?

Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age. But there's disagreement among breast cancer experts regarding when you should have your first mammogram.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) does not recommend screening for women in their 40s. For women between the ages of 50 and 74, USPSTF experts say women should have mammograms every two years and they don't recommend screening at all after age 74.

Whether you need a mammogram is a personal decision between you and your doctor. If you're over age 40, talk to you doctor about when you should begin mammogram screening.

Mammograms are an important part of your health history. If you go to another health care provider or move, take the film (mammogram) with you.

Should I Still Do Breast Self-Exams?

Not all breast cancers can be detected on mammogram, especially in younger women who have denser breast tissue. Remember, along with following your doctor's recommendations for mammography testing, it is essential that you perform breast self-exams every month, beginning at age 20. You should also have breast exams by your health care provider (physician or nurse) every three years starting at age 20 and every year starting at age 40.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Angela Jain on June 19, 2014
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