Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"At what age should women start getting mammograms?"
I am a 28 year old woman. Should I have mammograms? Can I wait until I'm older. I know breast cancer can develop at any time.
You have asked a very controversial question. Recommendations as to when women should start getting mammograms has changed recently with a recommendation by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. It is now recommended that women between the ages of 50 and 75 have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years to look for evidence of breast cancer. This is a change from their previous recommendations that women 40 and above get yearly mammograms. This recommendation was made because their is new evidence that screening women between 40 and 50 probably did not save that many lives and only exposed women to unneeded radiation from the mammograms. Nevertheless, some physicians are still recommending screening at age 40. If you have a close relative such as a mother or sister that has been diagnosed with breast cancer, then your screening will not fall into the routine category. In addition, if you have a relative that was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, then you may need screening as early as your 30s with breast MRIs. Mammograms are not as effective as a screening tool in younger women because their breasts are too dense for the mammograms to distinguish concerning masses. I suggest that you bring this issue up with your primary care physician. He or she can examine your family history and recommend when you should begin having mammograms. Likely there will be updated recommendations before you turn 40. Your physician can perform yearly breast exams in the mean time to look for concerning masses. I hope that answer helped.
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