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Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among American women. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

The American Cancer Society’s screening guidelines state:

  • Women between age 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • Women who are at high risk for breast cancer should get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30. This includes women who have a personal or family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of the disease.
  • All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.

Clinical breast exams are not recommended for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age.

Screening tests for breast cancer include the following:

Mammograms, which use low-dose X-rays, are the best way to screen for breast cancer. Women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early and are less likely to need aggressive treatment like surgery to remove the breast (mastectomy) and chemotherapy.

Clinical breast exam and breast self-exam
Research has not shown a clear benefit of regular breast exams done by a health professional (clinical breast exams) or by women themselves (breast self-exams) for those at average risk of breast cancer. Women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and should report any changes to a healthcare provider immediately.

Contact your primary care provider to determine your eligibility for a breast cancer screening.

Most insurances cover screening tests at 100 percent. Contact your plan for details.