Federal guidelines on mammograms are changing

Federal guidelines on mammograms are changing

A national evidence-based group has recommended that women start getting breast cancer screenings earlier, suggesting that women get their first mammogram at age 40.

That’s 10 years earlier than previously recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. And over recent years, there has been a rise in breast cancer diagnoses in women under the age of 50.

“While a large percentage of the patients I treat for breast cancer are over the age of 50, I do see a significant number of young women with breast cancer. This includes women in their 40s, whose small, early cancer would not have been picked up outside of a screening,” says Dr. Jodi Brehm, a breast surgeon at Aurora Health Care. “We know that women who are diagnosed earlier are likely to have a better outcome.”

Breast cancer can also be more aggressive in women who haven’t yet reached menopause.

While U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations help guide doctors and their patients about when to start any manner of cancer screening, everyone’s health is different. So, you should talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

Dr. Brehm says the key to knowing when to talk to your doctor is to know what’s normal for you. “If you notice a change in your body, that’s when it’s time to call and get something checked out,” she says. “For example, if you’re in the shower and you notice a lump that doesn’t go away after a few days, that’s worth asking about.”

Typically, you should start with your primary care doctor, who can understand what’s needed to investigate further.

Want to learn about your risk for breast cancer? Take our free online quiz.

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  1. Patricia Akehurst May 23, 2024 at 1:21 pm · Reply

    I am 77 should I get a mammogram…. have lung cancer!

  2. Gloria Bradshaw May 27, 2024 at 11:42 am · Reply

    I will be 78 in August. Previous mammograms have been negative and there is no history of breast cancer in my family. Should I still get mammogram?

    • Anna Kohler

      Hi Gloria, we recommend checking in with your doctor who can help you determine the best course of action.

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About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.