When should you start getting mammograms?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. Catching breast cancer early makes it easier to treat and improves the chances of remission and survival. The timeline for starting mammogram screenings is different for every person, but the general guidelines are similar across organizations. People should start getting mammograms annually at age 40 if they haven’t started earlier.

Your healthcare provider can assess your unique risk and recommend the appropriate timeline for you to start receiving mammogram screenings. If you’re at higher risk for breast cancer, due to family history, a personal history of cancer or positive genetic testing, you might start to get mammograms before age 40. Life events like pregnancy and breastfeeding should NOT delay mammograms.

There are serious health disparities when it comes to breast cancer diagnosis and survival. For example, Black breast cancer patients are 40% more likely to die than white counterparts and often get cancer at younger ages. Early screening mammograms are essential for reducing these disparities, but recommendations can change at any point if certain additional testing, like MRI, is found to be more effective.

If you have questions or concerns about your risk of breast cancer or when you should start getting mammograms, speak with your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to talk to you about your family history, screening preferences, risks, and how to spot abnormalities in your breasts yourself.

  • Pruthi, Sandhya. “Mammogram guidelines: What are they?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. March 2, 2016.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Mammogram.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. August 20, 2016. Web.
  • “American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms.” Cancer.org. American Cancer Society. October 20, 2016. Web.
  • “What Is Breast Cancer Screening?” CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 19, 2016.
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