Is It Ever Safe to Stop Getting Mammograms?

A mammogram is a special type of breast x-ray that allows medical professionals to look for changes in breast tissue and detect early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are extremely important because they’re the best way to detect breast cancer early, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). In some cases, mammograms are able to detect breast cancer three years before it can be felt or detected otherwise.

You’re probably beginning to get the point by now that regular mammograms are an important step in protecting your health, even if you don’t have any problems or symptoms related to your breasts. But are mammograms necessary throughout life? Keep reading to find out.

Here’s how often you need to get mammograms
For women with no history of cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends seeing your doctor for a mammogram every year from age 40 through age 54, and every other year from that point on. From age 55 onwards, you can transition to a mammogram every other year until you are 75. Once you hit 75, you’ll want to have a conversation with healthcare provider about whether you should continue to have mammograms, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

If you have a history of breast cancer, the recommendations for mammogram screening may be different. Recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Cancer Society suggest continuing yearly mammograms for women who have had a unilateral mastectomy or lumpectomy. These mammograms may play an important role in detecting a recurrence of breast cancer or new breast cancer. 

But among women who are older than 75, the guidelines aren’t as cut and dry. ASCO points out two scenarios where regular mammograms may not be recommended or necessary.

The first scenario is among women with significant medical conditions, such as stroke or heart disease, that may pose a higher risk of death than breast cancer. In these situations, it’s not entirely clear whether continuing mammograms through the lifespan is necessary, ASCO points out.

The next scenario is among women who were previously treated for lower-risk types of breast cancer and are now taking medication that lowers their risk of breast cancer. In these situations, mammograms may not as important compared to a case where someone isn’t on this type of medication.

Since mammogram recommendations vary from one woman to another, the best thing you can do once you get close to age 75 is have a discussion with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan that makes the most sense for you.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

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