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Mammography Age Recommendation FAQs
The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history or other factors that place them at high risk for the disease. Also, if it is determined that your breast tissue is dense, 3D Screening Mammography (Tomosynthesis) is the most important and effective way to screen for breast cancer. Mammography is the only imaging technology that has been shown in multiple studies to decrease the mortality rate from breast cancer.
On mammograms, breast tissue can appear different depending on the proportion of fatty and glandular tissue. When your breasts are dense, they have more glandular tissue. This is quite common – up to 50% of women have dense breast tissue.
It can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram, and may increase your risk of breast cancer. Breast density should be factored into your overall risk assessment.
Talk with your healthcare provider. You can also speak to your radiologist directly. There are many other risk factors besides breast density, so be sure to ask if supplemental screening tests such Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and 3D Screening Mammography (Tomosynthesis) are right for you.
There is a subset of women who are at higher risk of breast cancer based on a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Many additional risk factors exist that may place a woman at higher risk of getting breast cancer.
Some of these additional risks include breast cancer gene mutation carriers, prior radiation therapy to the chest for Hodgkin’s disease before the age of 30, and other genetic factors. These women may benefit from annual mammography before age 40 and possibly from a yearly Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) examination.
If you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer or think you may be at higher risk of breast cancer, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider to determine when and how to start screening for breast cancer. You can also read about our Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program.
It's very similar to a traditional mammogram, and takes about the same amount of time. You'll be positioned in the same way, and your breast will be compressed under a paddle while images are taken at different angles. The machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of images at several angles. The images are then examined for abnormalities.