Ask a Pro – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by | October 15th, 2020 | News

Ask a Pro with Dr. John Watkins, Bismarck Cancer Center

Q:  I am a 38-year-old female with no family history of breast cancer. When should I get my first mammogram?

A: Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most successful. These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer. For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase the risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30:

Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.

Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years. A mammogram can often find breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop. Call your healthcare provider for more information.