The bottom line: Mammography saves lives. Various organizations may not agree perfectly on screening recommendations, but don’t use that as an excuse to throw up your hands and do nothing.
“Mammography is one of the few screening tools that has been proven to save lives. Every woman over 40 should at least begin a discussion about screening with her doctor,” says Mark Helvie, M.D., director of breast imaging at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Here’s what everyone does agrees on:
- All women 50-74 should receive regular mammograms.
- Mammography may be the right choice for women in their 40s. While many groups, such as the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, continue to recommend routine screening, others advocate a discussion between women and their health care providers.
- Yearly or every other year? Many groups continue to recommend annual exams. The difference of opinion comes down to a balance between benefit and harm. Annual screening saves more lives but at a cost of more harms. Talk to your doctor about your options.
- Women at very high risk for breast cancer may benefit from additional screening with MRI. Continue reading