What Age Should a Woman Get a Mammogram?

breast cancer awarenessIf you’re in your 30's, you may be wondering if it’s time to add a yearly mammogram to your healthcare routine. Although several major health organizations recommend starting mammograms at different ages, it’s important to talk to your doctor to assess your personal risk and family history to make an informed decision about when breast cancer screenings are right for you.

When Does the American Cancer Society Recommend Starting Mammograms?

The American Cancer Society adopted the following guidelines for women of average risk to begin breast cancer screenings:

Ages 35- 40
In some states, NY included, there is legislation that requires most insurance companies to pay for mammograms. The Women's Health Law requires insurance companies to pay for an initial baseline mammogram for women between the ages of 35 and 39. At PURE, we recommend women come in for their first, baseline mammogram at age 35.

Ages 40-54
You should get a mammogram every year

Ages 55+
You should get a mammogram every two years or continue getting a yearly test.
Continue to get mammograms if you’re in good health and expect to live an additional 10 years.

The American Cancer Society also recommends that women with special risk factors add an MRI to their screening routine. However, the percentage of women who will fall into this category is small.

When Do Other Health Organizations Recommend Starting Mammograms?

The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends the following mammogram guidelines for women of average risk of breast cancer:

  • Ages 40-49: You should talk to your doctor and decide if the benefits outweigh the risks
  • Ages 50-74: You should get a mammogram every two years

That National Comprehensive Cancer Network offers the following mammogram recommendations for women of average risk of breast cancer:

  • Ages 40 & Older: You should get a mammogram every year
  • They also recommend women get a clinical breast examination by their primary health provider every one to three years from the ages of 25-39 and yearly starting at age 40

There are new laws in certain states that are now requiring large group insurers to cover mammograms for women starting at age 35. One such state is New York State.

Should I Get a Mammogram in My 20s or 30s?

Mammograms are not recommended for young women in their 20s or 30s who are at average risk for breast cancer. The reasons for this are varied and include:

  • Young women tend to have dense breast tissue that obscures the view of potentially cancerous growths shown on mammograms
  • Young women have a low cancer risk and shouldn’t risk radiation exposure and screening cost
  • Mammograms for young women have a higher level of false-positive results, resulting in unnecessary additional testing

Doctors suggest young women begin performing self-breast exams (BSE) every month starting at age 20. A BSE helps women get to know how their breasts should look and feel and will help them notice even the slightest changes that could indicate a problem.Doctors also stress that young women who find a lump or other abnormality should get an examination and not assume they are too young to get breast cancer.

Mammograms at PURE Mammography

PURE Mammography has 2 locations in New York: Garden City & Lake Grove. New York State now requires large group insurers to cover mammograms for women starting at age 35! This is great news for New Yorker's. At PURE, we see women starting at age 35 for their first, base-line mammogram.

Where Can I Get a Mammogram on Long Island?

PURE Mammography offers state-of-the-art 3D mammograms in a caring, spa-like facility in Lake Grove, NY. Conveniently located inside Smith Haven Mall, PURE doesn’t require an appointment, so you can drop by after an afternoon of shopping to get your yearly breast cancer screening. PURE is certified by the American College of Radiology and is a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, meaning all of our board-certified radiologists specialize in breast imaging. Contact us today for more information.

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