Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Finding breast cancer early and getting state-of-the-art cancer treatment are the most important ways to get better outcomes. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully than cancer that is in its later stages. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find developing breast cancer early.

What is breast cancer screening?

The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don’t have any symptoms. The purpose of breast screening is to find breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages. The most commonly performed screening test for breast cancer is a mammogram. 

Mammograms are low-dose x-rays of the breast. Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most successful. A mammogram can often find breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop. Results from many decades of research clearly show that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early, are less likely to need aggressive treatment like surgery to remove the breast (mastectomy) and chemotherapy, and are more likely to be cured.

Other doctor recommended breast cancer screening tests include:

  • Breast ultrasounds
  • Breast MRI
  • Fast breast MRIs 

Thermograms are also often mentioned as a screening option but have several misconceptions regarding the accuracy of its results. Mammograms are the most frequently used and recommended method of diagnosing breast cancer as its results have a 92% accuracy rate and are often used to confirm/reject the outcomes of other forms of screening. It is best to consult your primary care physician about which screening method is right for you.

Recommendations based on risk

For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. Screening suggestions for these women of average risk of breast cancer are as follows:

  • Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. 

Women with higher than average of risk of breast cancer, including family history, increased genetic disposition, and certain radiology procedures should follow these screening guidelines: 

  • Women between 25 to 40 can start clinical breast exams every six months 
  • Women 25 and older should start receiving annual mammograms
  • Women 25 and older can start possible supplemental imaging (ex: breast ultrasound, fast breast MRI) for women with dense breast tissues
  • Women over 30 can start receiving annual breast MRIs

All women should have an understanding of what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening and should speak with their doctor about additional screening tests, performing monthly self breast exams, and become familiar with their breasts so they are better able to notice changes.

According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, regular annual mammography screening of women with no symptoms of breast cancer has lowered the number of women who die from the disease by about 30 percent. If you are within the recommended age and risk guidelines and would like to learn more about getting screened for breast cancer, please consult your doctor before taking any further action.

To book a breast cancer screening, visit us at Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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