Breast Cancer Screening
The type and frequency of Reference breast cancer Opens New Window screening that is best for you changes as you age.
- Ages 18 to 39: Some experts recommend that women have a Reference clinical breast exam Opens New Window every 3 years, starting at age 20. Talk with your doctor about how often you should have a breast exam. If you have a Reference high risk for developing breast cancer, talk to your doctor about when to begin having routine Reference mammograms Opens New Window and other screening tests, such as Reference magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Opens New Window.
Ages 40 and
older: It is important for you to discuss with your doctor the medical evidence about mammograms before you decide when to start having mammograms and how often to have them. For woman at average risk:
- The American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that most women begin screening at age 40 and then have a mammogram every year.
- The Reference U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Opens New Window recommends that most women begin screening at age 50, and then have a mammogram every 2 years until age 74.
- The risk of breast cancer increases with age, and the age at which testing no longer helps reduce death from breast cancer is not known. If you are 75 or older, talk to your doctor about mammography as a regular part of your health care plan.
You can find out your personal risk level at www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool.
Early detection is an important factor in the success of breast cancer treatment. The earlier breast cancer is found, the more easily and successfully it can be treated. The two methods commonly used for early detection are:
- Reference Mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can often find tumors that are too small for you or your doctor to feel.
- Reference Clinical breast exam (CBE). During a clinical breast exam, your doctor will carefully feel your breasts and under your arms to check for lumps or other unusual changes. Talk to your doctor about whether to have a clinical breast exam.
Make sure you know what your breasts normally look and feel like. When you know what is normal for you, you are better able to notice changes. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your breasts.
Reference Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast may be used as a screening test for women who have a high risk of breast cancer. This includes women who test positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, or have two or more close family members who have had breast cancer before age 50. MRI may also be used to evaluate the opposite breast in women diagnosed with breast cancer.
For more information, see the topic Reference Breast Cancer.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 22, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology