When Should You Get A Mammogram? A Definitive Guide

When should you consider getting screened for breast cancer?

The answer depends on who you ask. New breast cancer screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-convened committee of independent medical experts, say the research is clear: Women between the ages of 50 and 74 should have a mammogram at least every other year. For everyone else, it depends.

Women in their 40s could start considering biannual mammograms, according to the task force, but doing it this young increases the risk of potential downsides that come from screening, including false positives. For women over the age of 75, the data is inconclusive. And for women with higher than average risk, like those with a past history of breast cancer or a family history of breast cancer, the new recommendations don’t really apply at all — they should factor their risk into their decision to screen and perhaps come up with an alternative and more aggressive schedule for themselves with the doctor’s help.

These latest guidelines come less than three months after the American Cancer Society released their own updated recommendations that women should get their first screening no later than age 45 and should begin biannual screening from 55 years onward.

Taken together, the organizations’ guidelines form the two leading voices on breast cancer screenings in the United States and indicate a major shift away from annual screenings for middle-aged women with average risk. And they also fall in line with long-standing European health officials’ recommendations that women ages 50 to 69 should get screened every two years.

These guidelines won’t affect insurance coverage

The task force’s previous update on mammography guidelines, written in 2009, was the first time they recommended against routine mammograms for average-risk women in their 40s. —> Read More