Who should get a Mammogram?

The following screening guidelines are for early detection of cancer in women who have no symptoms:

Experts have different recommendations for mammography. Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening every two years for women ages 50 to 74. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends yearly screening for all women ages 40 and older. Women should talk with their doctors about their personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often they should get them.

The ACS recommends clinical breast exams (CBEs) at least every three years for all women in their 20s and 30s. The ACS recommends annual CBEs for women ages 40 and older. The USPSTF, however, believes there is not enough evidence to assess the value of CBEs for women ages 40 and older. Women should talk with their doctors about their personal risk factors and make a decision about whether they should have a CBE.

The USPSTF does not recommend breast self-exams (BSEs) because evidence suggests BSEs do not lower risk for death from breast cancer. The ACS says BSEs are an option for women 20 and older as a means of familiarizing themselves with their breasts so they can notice changes more easily. Talking with your doctor about the benefits and limitations can help you decide if you should start performing BSEs.

Women who are at an increased risk (family history, genetic tendency, past breast cancer) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of starting mammography screening earlier, having additional tests (breast ultrasound, MRI), or having more frequent exams.

In addition, the following guidelines by age are recommended:

National Cancer Institute Guideline for Screening Mammography:
Women in their 40s and older should have a screening mammogram on a regular basis, every one to two years.

American Cancer Society Guideline for Screening Mammography:
Women 40 years of age and older should have a screening mammogram every year.

Consult your doctor regarding the screening guidelines that are appropriate for you.