The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women age 40 and up, but the US Preventative Services Task force recommends mammograms every two years, and only when a woman reaches age 50.
Despite conflicting recommendations from these groups, your individual risk factors and family history are what should determine your mammogram schedule. Discuss these points with your doctor and decide together what is an appropriate mammogram schedule for you.
To prepare for your mammogram, the Mayo Clinic suggests taking the following steps:
- Choose a mammogram facility that is certified by the Food and Drug Administration.
- If you are pre-menopausal, schedule your mammogram for the week after your menstrual period when your breasts are least likely to be tender.
- If you’re going to a facility you’ve never been to before, bring with you all of your prior mammogram images, so the radiologist may compare them with your new images.
- Don’t use deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams, or perfumes under your armpits or near your breasts, as they can show up on the images and cause confusion.
- If you’ve found mammograms to be uncomfortable in the past, consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication an hour ahead of your exam.
If you or a loved one has received a breast cancer diagnosis, learn more about the team who will treat the cancer, treatment options, and questions to ask the doctors by visiting the Vitals Breast Cancer Patient Guide.
Sources: healthination.com and mayoclinic.com