You've probably heard that breast cancer strikes one in eight women. And you know that early detection boosts your odds of beating cancer. But how do you know at what age you should start getting mammograms? For that matter, how do you know if you're at average or high risk for the disease?
"There's no one-size-fits-all approach to breast cancer screening," said Denise Reddy, MD, a board-certified radiologist who is an independent member of the HonorHealth medical staff. "Because each woman has a unique personal and family medical history, she should discuss what's right for her with her doctor."
You can determine if you're at average or high risk for breast cancer by using a breast cancer risk assessment tool from the National Cancer Institute. If your score is 20 to 25 percent or higher, you're considered at high risk for breast cancer.
Mammogram timing and frequency
Here's what Innovation Care Partners, an accountable care organization (ACO) led by HonorHealth physicians, recommends if you're at average risk for breast cancer: Starting at 40, talk with your doctor about whether screening mammography is right for you. Starting at 50, get a mammogram at least every other year.
If you're at high risk for breast cancer based on your personal or family medical history, or if you have a genetic breast mutation:
- Starting at 40, get an annual mammogram. However, you may need to start earlier depending on your family history. If you have a close relative with breast cancer, start getting an annual mammogram 10 years earlier than your relative was at the time of her diagnosis – but not before age 30.
- Talk to your doctor to see if you should also get other tests, such as breast MRI and ultrasound.