Mammograms are an important tool in detecting breast cancer. If you follow the guidelines for mammography, you are more likely to detect early breast cancer before it has spread, and you may be able to detect it before you have any obvious signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Detecting breast cancer early improves your odds of effective treatment.
The guidelines from the breast cancer specialists including the American College of Radiology (ACR), the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) are annual screening mammography beginning at age 40 for asymptomatic women.
If you are symptomatic, you need a diagnostic mammogram.
If you are at higher risk due to genetic or other factors, please consult with your physician as to when you should start screening since it is often before age 40. Talk with your doctor about your personal and family history of cancer and your
own risk factors, and decide together what’s best for you.
3-D mammography (tomosynthesis) is another tool to image the breast. It takes individual slice pictures through the breast. It has been shown to be of benefit in all women but especially those with dense breasts, are at high risk for breast cancer or are having their first mammogram.