This is one of the most asked questions at the El Camino Health Women's Imaging Center. And with so many differing opinions out there, it can be challenging to get a clear answer.
The simple answer is – there is no clear answer. It all depends on you, your health, your risk profile and your family history.
The experts at the El Camino Health Women's Imaging Center recommend regular mammogram screenings for all women over the age of 40. By regular, we recommend a mammogram screening every one to two years depending on your individual needs. Talk to your doctor to determine what is right for you in terms of mammogram screening.
“A mammogram screening is still the best line of defense in early detection of breast cancer” shares Dr. Silaja Yitta, Director of Breast Imaging and Intervention at the El Camino Health Women's Imaging Center. In addition to regular screening, we encourage all women to do regular self-exams of their breasts. “If you see or feel a change in your breasts, call your doctor. Only you know what’s not normal for you.”
A paper published by the American College of Radiology states that early detection significantly reduces deaths from breast cancer for women ages 40 to 74. Additionally, older women who forgo screening are more likely to present with higher stage cancers. A family history of breast cancer has always been considered a major risk factor, but now doctors are unsure whether it plays such a large role in late-life breast cancer.
Simply put, the age to stop screening should be based on each woman’s health status rather than an age-based determination.
Questions to ask your doctor
You can make an informed decision about routine screening by weighing the pros and cons of screening mammograms based on your overall health, life expectancy and preferences. Consider asking your doctor:
- What are my personal breast cancer risk factors?
- What are the harms of mammograms at my age?
- Am I in good enough health to get a mammogram?
- What do you suggest to your patients in similar health?
- Are treatments available for me if cancer is found?
- What are the risks of treatment?
Call the Women's Imaging Center at 650-940-7050 to make an appointment to get a mammogram today.