What Age to Start Mammograms for Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screenings help check a woman's breasts for signs of the disease. While screening may not prevent cancer, it can help find the disease when treatment is more manageable. Your doctor can recommend the best screening tests and inform you when to have them. 

Correct information about your screening options will help you make the best decision. Here is more information on the age to start mammograms for breast cancer screening. 


Breast Cancer Screening

The United States Preventive Services Task Force provides research on the best time to prevent diseases. They suggest that women between 40 to 49 years should consult their doctor on when and how often to get mammograms. 

Women should consider the benefits and risks of screening exams before age 50. The experts recommend that women between 50 to 74 get mammograms every two years. The risk for breast cancer should determine when to start the screening. 


Breast Cancer Screening Tests 

Breast cancer screening aims to detect the disease, even if there are no symptoms. The screening can happen at a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office. Most health plans cover the full cost of mammograms for women starting at 40 years old. 

Some institutions offer free mammograms, and you can call to find out if you qualify for the service. Screening tests include mammograms and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 


Getting a Mammogram

A mammogram is a low-dose breast X-ray that can help detect breast cancer in the early stages. It is the best way for women of screening age to find breast cancer. Early detection is vital for prompt diagnosis and successful treatment. 

Treating the disease before exhibiting symptoms such as a lump is easier. Scheduling regular mammograms can help reduce the risk of getting a mastectomy or dying from cancer. A breast MRI can be used alongside a mammogram for women at high risk for breast cancer. 


At What Age to Start Breast Cancer Screening

Most women have an average risk of breast cancer if they do not have a personal or family history of the disease. They are also at average risk if they do not have a genetic mutation that increases the risk of breast cancer. For those between 40 to 44 years, annual mammograms are optional. 

Experts recommend that women between 45 to 54 years should get annual mammograms. Those over 55 can get tested every two years or annually if they choose to. The screening should continue for as long as the woman is healthy.


Benefits and Risks of Mammograms 

The benefit of mammograms is the early detection of cancer. Breast cancer found during screening is more likely to be smaller. The size and spread are vital for predicting the outlook or prognosis. 

A downside, a mammogram or breast screening can result in a false positive. It can cause anxiety and lead to more invasive and costly tests. Another risk of mammograms is overdiagnosis, which can lead to overtreatment. 

Breast self-awareness is vital for detecting issues with the breasts. All women need to be familiar with how their breasts look and feel. It will help with spotting changes such as lumps during a breast self-exam. However, a self-exam or clinical breast exam does not reduce the risk of developing cancer. 

For more on what age to start mammograms for breast cancer screening, visit Partners In Obstetrics & Women's Health at our New Lenox, Illinois office. Call (815) 240-0554 to schedule an appointment today.

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