Risks of Breast Cancer Screening
The risks and benefits of screening for breast cancer may be different for different groups of people.
The benefits of breast cancer screening may vary among age groups:
- In women who have a life expectancy of 5 years or less, finding and treating early stage breast cancer may reduce their quality of life without helping them live longer.
- In women older than 65 years, the results of a screening test may lead to more diagnostic tests and anxiety while waiting for the test results. Also, the breast cancers found are usually not life-threatening.
- It has not been shown that women benefit from starting mammography at younger than 40 years.
Routine breast cancer screening is advised for women who have had radiation treatment to the chest, especially at a young age. The benefits and risks of mammograms and MRIs for these women are not known. There is no information on the benefits or risks of breast cancer screening in men.
No matter how old you are, if you have risk factors for breast cancer you should ask for medical advice about when to begin having mammograms and how often to be screened.