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Mammography Guidelines

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. Screening mammograms are a key tool used to diagnose breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast, intended to find cancer before any signs or symptoms have appeared.

Screening mammograms do save lives, but they also have their limitations. The potential life-saving benefit of screening mammograms is different for each woman.

Below are Confluence Health’s recommendations for breast cancer screening mammograms.

For healthy women ages 40-49:

  • Have a baseline mammogram at age 40.
  • Use a breast cancer risk tool, such as the one online at www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool, to measure your personal risk.
  • Discuss your personal risk of breast cancer with your doctor, to decide whether screening mammograms are right for you.

For healthy women ages 50-74:

  • Have a screening mammogram at least once every two years.
  • Use a breast cancer risk tool, such as the one online at www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool, to measure your personal risk.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of screening mammograms yearly vs. every two years.
  • Every two years reduces false positives, and may reduce overdiagnosis.
  • Every year gives a slightly better chance of finding cancer at an earlier and more curable stage.
  • Discuss your personal risk of breast cancer with your doctor, to decide what interval of screening mammograms is right for you.

For healthy women ages 75+:

  • For women ages 75 and older, the benefits of mammography depend on overall health and life expectancy.
  • Younger, healthier women are more likely to benefit than older women who are in poor health.
  • Discuss with your doctor whether to continue screening mammograms.

If you have any breast symptoms such as pain or lumps, contact your doctor right away.

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