Mammogram Screening Age - #IChoose40

There is still some confusion regarding which guidelines to follow when it comes to screening mammograms. American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines now recommend women start screening mammograms at age 45 instead of age 40, also mentioning that after age 55, mammograms could be cut back to every other year.

At Wheaton Iowa, we strongly encourage women without a family history of breast cancer (a.k.a women at average risk) to start having screening mammograms every year starting at age 40 to obtain maximum lifesaving benefits.

You have a choice! If you want to start your yearly mammogram at age 40, or keep receiving a yearly mammogram after age 55, talk to your doctor. 

Watch our video to learn more:

Additional Information

Breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer in women. Two thirds of new breast cancers are diagnosed in women without a family history of breast cancer. Having a mammogram that can detect cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage decreases the chance that a woman will need extensive treatment and/or die from breast cancer.  The death rate from breast cancer has declined steadily by over 30% since 1990, when women started obtaining annual screening mammograms.
Although the recently changed guidelines suggest delaying the onset of screening mammography for women with average risk to age 45, at the same time, the ACS strongly reaffirmed that mammography screening does save lives and that if a woman wants to maximally reduce her risk of dying from breast cancer, she could choose yearly mammography from age 40. In addition, ACS states that although transitioning to biennial screening is an option for women older than 55, if these women want to reduce, as much as possible, their risk of dying from breast cancer, they could choose yearly mammograms.  The American College of Radiology (ACR), the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI), and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) continue to recommend annual screening mammograms for women with average risk from age 40. 
At Covenant Comprehensive Breast Center, analysis of data from 2004 to 2013 shows that one fourth of diagnosed breast cancers have been tissue histologic grade three (most aggressive on pathology) with one fourth of these diagnosed in women younger than 45 years of age. Although these local statistics are similar to national level data, it reflects a sizable population of women, especially considering that, at this time, it is not possible to predict which average risk woman might get an aggressive type of breast cancer. If a woman over 55 years was to choose two year interval screening mammograms, then there could be significant delay in diagnosis, if she were to develop an aggressive breast cancer.
The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers accredited Covenant Comprehensive Breast Center and Commission on Cancer accredited Covenant Cancer Treatment Center have a strong Breast Program Leadership team and highly engaged Cancer Committee that is comprised of breast surgeons, breast radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and many trained breast health professionals who concur with ACR guidelines for breast cancer screening for women with average risk. These include:
  • Annual screening mammography starting at age 40
  • Monthly self-breast exam
  • Clinical breast exam (at least annual) 
The guidelines followed by Covenant Comprehensive Breast Center and Covenant Cancer Treatment Center are also supported by the mammography teams at Sartori Memorial Hospital and Mercy Hospital.