If you’re up on your healthcare guidelines, you probably know that you are supposed to have a mammogram every year if you’re over 40 years old. That was the screening recommendation for women until just last week, when the American Cancer Society changed its recommendation. Now the American Cancer Society endorses that women who are not high risk should wait until the age of 45 for mammography screening.
To complicate things more, the American Cancer Society suggests that you have a mammogram each year until you turn 55, and then begin getting a mammogram once every two years. These new recommendations are more closely in line with that from the U.S. Preventative Task Force (USPTF) that women wait until they are 50 years old to have a mammogram, and then only have one every other year.
The most important thing to know about all of these recommendations is that mammograms and monthly self breast exams save women’s lives. Having a mammogram is the most effective thing you can do to reduce your chances of dying of breast cancer. If you’re worried you can’t keep track with the ever-changing suggestions on when you get screened for what, just call your family doctor or OBGYN each year on or around your birthday and ask them if you need to make any screening appointments.
“A woman should make a personal decision as whether she should start screening before age 45 but we clearly recommend that by age 45 all women should start regular screening every year,” said one doctor on behalf of the American Cancer Society.
Most importantly, don’t want for your yearly exam if you notice a breast lump. Make an appointment with your OBGYN if you find a lump or notice nipple changes, discharge, color changes, or skin changes like dimpling or orange peel appearance.
Here are the American Cancer Society’s new breast cancer screening recommendations for women who are not high risk. High risk can be defined as someone with a first-degree relative with breast cancer or positive genetic testing (positive BRCA gene testing).
New Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations:
- Beginning at age 45, women should undergo regular screening mammography.
- Annual screening should be provided for women 45 to 54 years old.
- Biennial screening should be provided for women who are 55 years and older.
- A woman can choose to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 years.