Many of us know a loved one diagnosed with cancer. It can be life-changing and terrifying to receive that news. While cancer is one of the top causes of death in our country, the good news is that you have the power to change the odds through cancer screenings, such as mammograms.
What age should I start mammograms if I’m at average risk?
There are many organizations committed to reducing the number of breast cancer deaths. These organizations dissect the currently available research to help provide guidance on optimal cancer screening practices. The table below lists recommendations based on these organizations’ interpretations of currently available research.
As you can see, there is some variety of recommendations, but here are the key similarities between them:
– Screening every 1-2 years
– It should begin at least by age 50, but most physicians recommend starting at age 40
– Between the ages 40-50, the decision to screen should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider
Why not start younger?
Studies tend to show that starting mammograms at younger ages results in only a slight decrease in breast cancer deaths while significantly increasing the number of false-positive tests, unnecessary biopsies, and procedures which can lead to increased anxiety and patient costs. Talk with your medical provider to discuss if you are at average or increased risk for breast cancer. She or he can help you decide which screening approach best fits your goals and preferences.
Russell Beckstead, DO
Canyon View Family Medicine