Do You Need a Mammogram? Maybe Not Yet.


What do the changes in breast cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) mean for you and your loved ones?

Are you familiar with the current ACS breast cancer screening guidelines? They’re good to know, even though the most important recommendations are the ones that come from your doctor, who knows your medical history and can give you specific guidance.

However, since doctors often refer to these recommendations when advising you, you should be aware of significant changes.

For women with an average breast cancer risk, the ACS:

  • Recommends that women speak with their doctor by age 40 about which mammogram schedule is appropriate for them.
  • Recommends that women begin having mammograms at age 45—no longer at age 40, which the ACS had previously recommended. The ACS also says that women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 if they so choose.
  • Recommends that if women continue to be cancer free at age 55, they consider reducing the frequency of mammograms to every other year.

According to the ACS, the recommendation to delay mammograms for most women is based on its research regarding false positives and the potential risks of the exam.

However, women who are considered at high risk for breast cancer—because of family history, a breast condition or another reason—need to begin screenings earlier and have them more often. Women should speak with their doctors about their risk level.