Breast Cancer Screening: When Should You Have a Mammogram & How Often Should You Have One? by Elisa Schmitz
I had my mammogram today. I've had one every year for the past seven years or so. It's not the most fun thing to do, but it is extremely important. My mother had breast cancer, and my paternal grandmother had breast cancer (thankfully, both survived it). Because of the history of breast cancer on both sides of my immediate family, I am considered to have a higher risk of getting the disease.
So when should you have a mammogram, and how often should you get one? The answer is unique to every individual, and is a decision to be made with your personal healthcare provider. However, there are general guidelines suggested by several well-known health organizations that you should review.
According to NorthShore University Health System, regular mammography is the best screening method to detect breast cancer early. But national guidelines from various breast health organizations differ on the appropriate starting age and frequency of mammography. "Given these differing opinions, we encourage a discussion of mammography starting at age 40 between physician and patient to ensure an individualized plan is established," NorthShore University Health System states.
For average-risk patients, here are the suggested ages at which to start mammography, and how often to have a mammogram:
- The American Cancer Society suggests starting at age 45 and having a mammogram every year from ages 45-54 and every two years after age 55.
- The United States Preventive Services Task Force suggests starting at age 50 and having a mammogram every two years.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Radiology suggest starting at age 40 and having a mammogram every year.
Please take the time to talk to your doctor and make a plan for your breast health. Your life could depend on it!
Source: NorthShore University Health System
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