Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
Recommendations for breast cancer screening are guided by medical evidence, with the goal of saving the most lives possible from breast cancer. These guidelines are established by the United States Preventive Task Force and the American Cancer Society and supported by leading medical organizations.
Before you can understand if and when you need a mammogram, you need to understand your personal risk for developing breast cancer.
Assessing Your Breast Cancer Risk
Many women don’t even realize they're at risk of developing breast cancer until their first mammogram at age 40. The American College of Radiology recommends every woman take a breast cancer risk assessment, or questionnaire, before age 30 to see if their risk warrants earlier and more frequent screening.
The Iowa Clinic recommends you use the IBIS Breast Cancer Risk Evaluation Tool to assess your personalized risk. It considers your family history, your age when you had your first child, other breast diseases you’ve had and many other factors to calculate your risk score.
Screening Mammography Recommendations for Women of Average Risk
Every woman has a different breast cancer risk profile. You’re considered at average risk if you have:
- No personal or family history of breast cancer.
- No genetic mutations, such as BRCA, the BReast CAncer gene
- No history of chest radiation therapy before the age of 30.
When You Should Start Getting Mammograms
Starting at age 40, all women of average risk should get an annual screening mammogram to check for breast cancer. All major professional organizations involved in caring for women and breast cancer patients agree on this recommendation.
Mammograms are the best tool for the early detection of breast cancer. Screening women in their 40s results in the highest rate of breast cancer detection and the most lives saved — up to 13,000 people each year.
How Often You Should Get a Mammogram
Every year. An annual screening helps catch breast cancer while it’s still in its early stages and easiest to treat. You should get a screening mammogram every year from age 40 to 54.
Once you turn 55, you can continue with your annual mammograms or reduce the frequency to every other year. Your individual screening mammography routine will depend on your health and recommendations from your provider.
Screening Mammography Recommendations for Women at High Risk
Women with a higher risk of developing breast cancer require more frequent monitoring in order to detect cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. You’re considered high risk if:
- You have a 20% or higher chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime, based on a risk assessment tool.
- Genetic testing found you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation that is closely associated with breast cancer.
- Your mom, dad, brother, sister or child have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
- You or one of your relatives listed above has Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome — other hereditary conditions caused by gene mutations that are linked to cancer.
- You had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30.
When and How Often You Need Breast Cancer Screening
If you’re at higher risk due to any of these factors, you need more frequent testing. Starting at age 30, you should get both a mammogram and a breast MRI every year. These screenings are typically scheduled six months apart so that your breast health is monitored twice each year. This breast cancer screening routine should continue as long as you’re in good health.
Scheduling Your Breast Cancer Screening
One in six breast cancers occur in women aged 40 to 49. Getting in the routine of scheduling your routine preventive screening is critical to your health. Even one missed mammogram may mean two years go by as breast cancer grows undetected. Schedule your breast cancer screening today and get answers the same day as your visit. No physician referral is necessary for women over the age of 40.
SCHEDULE YOUR MAMMOGRAM