ZocdocAnswersShould women on birth control pills get mammograms?

Question

Should women on birth control pills get mammograms?

I'm 26 and worried about the effects of my birth control pills. Should I start mammograms early?

Answer

The issue regarding when women should begin getting mammograms is currently an active and somewhat controversial issue. Currently, there is no particular recommendation that is specific to women that take birth control pills. This is because the increased risk of breast cancer associated with oral contraceptives is not considered significant. The increase in risk of getting breast cancer is much less than 1% greater in women that take the pill, and this is considered controversial. In addition, there is no increase in breast cancer death in women that take the pill, probably because women on the pill are more likely to have yearly breast exams done by a physician. Right now, women without a strong family history of breast cancer can begin having yearly mammograms at age 50. By the time you reach this age, hopefully we will have better methods of screening than mammograms. On a side note, keep in mind that taking the pill will reduce your risk of getting ovarian, uterine, and colon cancer. This, at the very least, makes the cancer risk for the pill a wash. I suggest that you bring this issue up with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss breast cancer screening with your family history in mind. You should at least have yearly breast exams. Good luck.

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