Do I Need a Mammogram?

I am 45 years old. I have been told that I need to start getting mammograms. I really don’t want to though. I do frequent self-breast examinations, and I have never found a lump. Do I really need to start getting regular mammograms? Can I wait until I turn 50?

Recently, there have been concerns that mammograms that start at age 40 are actually causing more harm than they are causing benefits. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has actuallly started recommending that mammograms be performed starting at age 50 and that they be performed once every two years and not once every year.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women start getting mammograms at age 45, and they suggest women ages 45 – 54 receive annual mammograms. Other groups suggest that mammograms can actually be harmful screenings.

I think it is definitely important to continue self-breast exams. If you find a lump, you should certainly have a mammogram, regardless of how old you are. You should also consider if you are at risk for breast cancer. Is there any family history of breast cancer? Do you have a mother, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, or sisters that have had breast cancer? If the answer is yes, you probably need to start having regular mammograms.

I think the best thing to do is to speak to your physician and see what he or she thinks. If you don’t find any lumps, and if you have no family history of breast cancer, it may be perfectly alright to start mammograms at age 50. However, it also would be perfectly alright to start mammograms now. It really is up to you and your physician.