Mammograms are the best tool for detection of breast cancer. However, there has been controversy about what ages should be screened and how often they should be administered.
NOTE that if you have an above average risk of having breast cancer because of a family history of breast cancer in a close relative, or a lump in the breast, or a history of previous breast abnormalities or breast biopsies, the guidelines for an “AVERAGE” person do not apply to you.
Our interpretation of the current guidelines,compiled from a variety of sources, primarily the US Preventive Services task force, are:
Women between ages 50 and 74:
Mammogram to be done every 2 years. This is the best balance between not finding enough cancers, and finding too many abnormalities resulting in many negative biopsies and more tests. This is a relatively recent change from yearly screening. You may still get reminder notices yearly from the radiologists who perform the tests, as this is how they were trained.
This is considered an individual decision to be discussed by the patient and the doctor.
Age over 75:
Again an individual consideration based on preference.
The American Cancer Society guidelines may be found at:
It continues to recommend yearly mammograms, starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
Breast self- exam is not currently recommended by the US Preventive Services task force, but is considered an option by the American Cancer Society
Breast exam by your doctor is recommended by the American Cancer Society to be done yearly after age 40.