Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Mammograms Every Other Year OK for Women Over 50?

Researchers found similar risk for advanced disease as with yearly screening, but some experts disagree


The task force guidelines are at odds with those of many other organizations, including the American Cancer Society, which recommends annual screening beginning at age 40.

The task force guidelines consider only a woman's age, according to Kerlikowske. Her team decided to study the benefits and harms of screening based not just on age but also on breast density and hormone therapy use.

Women in the study were 40 to 74. Most diagnosed with breast cancer during the years studied, 1994 to 2008, were 50 or older. They typically had dense or very dense breasts.

The study has flaws, said Dr. Daniel Kopans, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and senior radiologist in the breast imaging division of Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also a member of the American College of Radiology's Breast Imaging Commission.

The groups weren't identical, he said, and that would have been the best way to study the issue. Information is lacking, too, he said, on why some women got screened annually and others did not. "Those screened every year may have had different risk factors," he said.

"I would tell women it makes sense to get screened every year," Kopans said.

In a statement, the American College of Radiology (ACR) pointed to an analysis published in 2011 in the American Journal of Roentgenology finding that under the biennial model, about 6,500 more women annually in the United States would die of breast cancer.

Looking at early versus late-stage cancer is not the best way to judge the best interval for mammograms, according to the ACR statement. Rather, it said, researchers should look at such factors as tumor size and other markers of detecting cancers early.

Dr. Robert Smith, senior director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society, said that the study is "not an accurate look at one year versus two years." For the study, annual was defined as intervals of nine to 18 months, for instance, and two years as more than 18 to 30 months.

Kerlikowske, in response, said this interval variability reflects real life.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror