Breastcancer.org believes that all medical decisions, including if and when to screen for breast cancer, are decisions to be made by each woman and her doctor.
The value of screening mammograms was questioned in November 2009 when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that routine screening mammograms for women with an average risk of breast cancer should start at age 50 instead of age 40. The recommended changes were very controversial and were not universally adopted.
Since that time, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network all have issued guidelines saying that all women should be eligible for screening mammograms starting at age 40.
If you're 40 or older and have an average risk of breast cancer, yearly screening mammograms should be part of your healthcare.
If your breast cancer risk is higher than average, talk to your doctor about a more aggressive breast cancer screening plan that makes the most sense for your particular situation. Your plan may include breast MRI or ultrasound in addition to mammograms.
There's only one of you and you deserve the best care possible. Don't let any obstacles get in the way of your regular screening mammograms.
- If you're worried about cost, talk to your doctor, a local hospital social worker, or staff members at a mammogram center. Ask about free programs in your area. You can also call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-422-6237 to be directed to lower-cost mammogram centers in your area.
- If you're having difficulty scheduling a mammogram at the center where you live, call the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, or visit the American College of Radiology web site’s Accredited Facility Search to find additional certified mammogram providers near you.
- If you find mammograms painful, ask the mammography center staff members how the experience can be as easy and as comfortable as possible for you.
- Many states require that private insurance companies, Medicaid, and public employee health plans offer coverage for specific health services, including mammograms. The only state without a law ensuring that private health plans cover screening mammograms is Utah. To see specific state mammography screening coverage laws, visit the Paying for Breast Cancer Screening page on the American Cancer Society’s website.