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Mammograms and Breast Cancer Screening: When to Start

Please Note: Mammograms are not offered at Watson Imaging Center at this time.

At what age should I start getting mammograms? The answer depends on who you ask.

Mammograms and Breast Cancer Screening When to StartWhile everyone agrees that mammography is an important tool in the early detection of breast cancer, there is some variability between organizations as to when and how often mammograms should be performed. Breast cancer screening guidelines have been updated over the years as we’ve learned more about the disease and technology has made screening easier and more readily available. Here is a summary of recommendations from the U.S. government and two organizations invested in the fight against breast cancer.

U.S Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)

  • 1996- The USPSTF recommended screening for breast cancer every 1-2 years, with mammography alone or mammography and annual clinical breast examination (CBE), recommended for women aged 50-69. There was insufficient evidence to show that an annual mammography was beneficial for women under the age of 50.
  • 2002- The USPSTF updated recommendations to screening mammography, with or without clinical breast examination (CBE), every 1-2 years for women aged 40 and older.
  • 2009- The USPSTF adjusted recommendations biennial screening mammography for women 50-74 years. Before the age of 50, the decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography should be an individual one and take into consideration the patient’s understanding of benefit and harm.
  • 2016 (most recent update)- The USPSTF still recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years. Beginning mammography screening at a younger age and screening more frequently may increase the risk for overdiagnosis and subsequent overtreatment. For women aged 40 to 49 years at average risk the decision to start screening mammography should be an individual one.

American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS)

  • In 2019, the ASBrS recommended that women with an average risk of breast cancer should start annual screening mammograms at age 40. Women with a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer should start annual screening mammograms at an earlier age and should be offered additional imaging each year.

American Cancer Society (ACS)

  • The ACS recommends that women between 40 and 44 should have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, women 45 to 54 should have annual mammograms, and women 55 and older can transition to a mammogram every other year. This should continue as long as long as she is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

The decision on when to start screening mammography is ultimately between you and your doctor. When it is time for your next mammogram, choose Watson Imaging Center. We offer screening mammography with convenience and superior service. Our central St. Louis location is just a few minutes from most metro municipalities. Your peace of mind is important. Don’t wait to schedule your mammogram at a big hospital. Avoid the headache and have your mammogram at Watson Imaging Center. Call 314-781-9711 today.

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