September 21, 2017 by Bethany Rundell and John Fernandez
When to Get a Mammogram
Every year. Every two years starting at age 40. Every other year starting at age 55. These are some of the guidelines for mammography that have been recommended by professional medical groups in recent years.
Most recently, the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) went on record to be more in line with the American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (UPSTF) by recommending screening mammograms every year or two starting at age 40, with regular screening starting no later than age 50.
With so many differing suggestions and frequent changes, how can a women be sure she’s following the right guidelines for her?
“The problem with differing guidelines is the patient ends up in the middle of the disagreement(s) of the groups making recommendations,” said Jane Mendez, M.D., chief of breast surgery at Miami Cancer Institute. “Instead of following strict guidelines, doctors are more and more encouraging patients to have conversations with them about their individual risk factors to determine a criteria for screening.”
Dr. Mendez says a patient’s ethnicity, age, and personal and family history of cancer should also go into the equation to determine how often a woman should have a screening mammogram.
“When it comes to mammograms, it’s no longer a matter of one size fits all,” Dr. Mendez said. “Every patient is an individual, and patients really need to talk to their doctor, advocate for themselves and plan accordingly.”
Baptist Health supports annual mammograms for women at average risk starting at age 40. One in six breast cancers occur in women age 40-49. Mammograms save lives in all women and specifically in women age 40-45. When breast cancer is found early and in a localized state, the five-year survival rate is near 100 percent, according to the National Breast Center Foundation.