Experts differ in their recommendations about when or how often women should have mammograms.
The truth is 1 out of 6 women will find something abnormal in their mammogram results. That is why many doctors emphasize the importance in detecting these abnormalities early. With over 12 years of experience in breast care, Dr. Manuel Corrales believes, “A combination of regular check-ups, mammogram screening and self-breast exams are essential to early detection of breast cancer. The earlier we find it, the better it’s going to be. Even for women of 50 and over, skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers."
The following guidelines are endorsed by 11 major medical organizations including the National Cancer Institute, the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Radiology, and others:
Beginning at age 40,
you should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years.
When you turn 50,
you should have a mammogram every year.
Your doctor should give you a breast exam once a year.
These guidelines apply only to women who do not have any symptoms or signs of breast cancer, such as a lump or other change in the breast. If you have any symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.
It is very important to have your mammogram procedure done by a qualified technologist, and read by a qualified radiologist.
The American Cancer Society recommends to all women who have no symptoms or feel no unusual breast lumps to follow these guidelines:
After age 20,
perform self-exam of the breast once a month.
In women aged 20-40 years,
have a clinical breast exam by a physician every 3 years, and once a year after age 40 years.
Woman 35-40 years of age
should have their first, baseline mammogram performed.
In women aged 40-49 years,
perform a mammogram every 1-2 years.
After age 50,
have a mammogram once a year.
Women with a personal or family history of breast tumors must work with their physicians and schedule more frequent exams. However, breast tissue in younger women (younger than 30 years) tends to be denser, and this makes it more difficult to detect small changes in the breast on a mammogram. Such women may be screened for breast tumors by means of ultrasound once every 2-3 years. You can read more from the American Cancer Society's screening recommendations by age here.