When should I be screened for breast cancer?

Whatever your age, you should know what is normal for your breasts and tell your doctor if you notice any changes. Once you reach a certain age, you can also go for screening mammography, a low-dose x-ray. Mammography is the most reliable method of finding breast cancer.

Our recommendation

Woman age 40 to 49

If you are 40 to 49

Talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer, along with the benefits and limitations of having a mammogram.

Woman age 50 to 74

If you are 50 to 74

Have a mammogram every 2 years.

Woman age 75 plus

If you are 75 or older

Talk to your doctor about whether having a mammogram is right for you.

It's your decision

Women should be aware of the benefits and limitations of screening mammography based on their age and risk factors to help decide if it is right for them. Talk with your doctor to help make your decision.

Your doctor may also do a physical exam of your breasts (called a clinical breast examination) to check for signs of cancer.

Women at high risk for breast cancer may need to be tested more often and at an earlier age than women with average risk. Talk to your doctor about your risk.

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How do I know if I am at high risk for breast cancer?

Some women have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer. You may be at a higher risk if you have:

  • strong family history of breast cancer
  • certain gene mutations, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
  • a personal history of lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), invasive breast cancer or atypical hyperplasia
  • dense breast tissue
  • received radiation therapy to the breast or chest

Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need a personal plan for testing. This may include:

  • mammography at a younger age
  • more frequent mammography
  • ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
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