An X-ray image of your breasts used to screen for breast cancer is known as a mammogram. In the early detection of breast cancer, mammogram plays a key role and it also helps in decreasing breast cancer deaths. Your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces during a mammogram to spread out the breast tissue. After that black-and-white images of your breasts are captured by an X-ray. These are then displayed on a computer screen and examined by an oncologist. For either screening or diagnostic purposes, a mammogram can be used. On your age and your risk of breast cancer, the frequency of mammogram depends.

Why it’s done ?

For either screening or diagnostic purposes in evaluating a breast lump, mammography can be used.

  • Screening mammography. For detecting breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms or new breast abnormalities, screening mammography is used. Detecting cancer before clinical signs are noticeable is the goal.
  • Diagnostic mammography. For investigating suspicious breast changes, such as a new breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge, diagnostic mammography is used. Additional mammogram images are included in a diagnostic mammogram.

When to begin screening mammography ?

To start screening for breast cancer, there is no ideal age. About your risk factors, your preferences and the benefits and risks of screening, talk with your breast cancer doctor.

The following are some general guidelines regarding when to begin screening mammography:

  • Those women who have an average risk of breast cancer. At the age of 40, many women begin mammograms and have them every one to two years.
  • Those women who have a high risk of breast cancer. By beginning screening mammograms before age 40, women with a high risk of breast cancer may benefit.

Recommendations for Mammography Screening in Women at Average Risk

Age

American Cancer Society

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

40-44 The decision to start screening is at the discretion of the individual. The decision to start screening is at the discretion of the individual. Annually
45-49 Annually The decision to start screening is at the discretion of the individual. Annually
50-54 Annually Biennially Annually
55-74 Biennially for as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live, or 10 years, whichever is greater. Biennially Annually
75+ Biennially for as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live, or 10 years, whichever is greater. Insufficient evidence to assess the benefits vs. the harms of continued screening. Not yet established. Clinical judgment recommended.