Whether it’s time for your first mammogram or your tenth, many misconceptions exist about mammograms. You might be afraid to have one, as nearly everyone knows someone with breast cancer. Or you might think you’re in good health and don’t need one. But here’s the facts: Regular mammograms can find or detect early breast cancer when it’s easiest to treat — and treatment in the early stages significantly reduces your risk of dying from the disease.
Mammogram questions and answers:
- Should all women start having mammograms at the same age? According to Intermountain Healthcare guidelines, women at average risk for breast cancer should begin annual screening mammography at the age of 40, and should continue screening for as long as they're healthy. Intermountain and The American Cancer Society agree that to save lives, screening should begin at age 40, because we know that 20 percent of breast cancers occur in women younger than 50. This means it's important that women not wait until they are 50 to start screening.
- Is there any reason women should receive a screening mammogram before age 40? Sometimes. Use the following guidelines to determine if you should get a screening mammogram before you're 40:
- Women with a first-degree relative (a mother or a sister) with premenopausal breast cancer should begin screening 10 years before the age of diagnosis of their relative. For example, if your mother was diagnosed at age 45, you should begin screening at age 35.
- Women at very high risk for breast cancer, those with the breast cancer gene, or first-degree relatives with breast and/or ovarian cancer should consult with a genetics counselor, and they may be eligible for MRI screening.
- Women with a lump or any suspicious symptoms should undergo diagnostic evaluation, which may include a mammogram, ultrasound or both. Women under 30 are usually evaluated with ultrasound initially.