When and How Often Should I Have a Mammogram?

Question:When and how often should I have a mammogram?

Answer: Mammograms should be done in two settings. One is as a screening setting in which case the woman has no complaints, you have no problems and you come in basically for an annual mammogram. These screening mammograms should certainly start by the age of 40, and in women who have strong family histories of breast cancer or other risk factors, you may start as early as your early 30s.

For other women where there is a problem, when something that comes up that's new or different, something that you feel or your doctor feels, then you would get what's called a diagnostic mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram could be done at any interval and it's done when the symptom shows up, when the problem shows up, where the lump shows up. And this diagnostic mammogram might be accompanied by an ultrasound.

If you've had a mammogram that shows an abnormality, whether it was for a diagnostic purpose or screening, you may be asked to come back at a six-month interval to check the mammogram to be certain that things have not progressed or developed into any kind of a serious problem.

Next: Why Have a Mammogram if I Can Just Feel for a Lump?

Dr. Anne Rosenberg
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