mammogramMammograms have been in the news recently. If you’ve been reading, you might be confused. The confusion is coming from conflicting recommendations from different health experts. Each group has looked at the same data, but they have interpreted the data differently. Screening too early can lead to false alarms and stress for the woman involved. Some cancers grow very slowly and might not even need to be treated, especially in older women. However, starting screening earlier does decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Here are the current recommendations from four major groups:

  • The American Medical Association (AMA)
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  • The American Cancer Society (ACS)
  • The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)
These recommendations are for healthy women who do not have a family or personal history of breast cancer.
When should I start?404045, but women age 40-44 have the option to start earlier50
How often should I get a mammogram?AnnualAnnualAnnual age 45-54; every one to two years age 55+Every two years
When should I stop?When you can reasonably expect to live less than 10 yearsAnnual as long as woman is in good healthWhen you can reasonably expect to live less than 10 years74
Bottom line: Women should discuss this issue with their doctors and make a joint decision about screening.