The Latest on Mammogram Frequency Recommendations - Ascension Wisconsin

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Published on March 10, 2014

Are You Confused About the Latest Recommendations on Mammogram Frequency?

You may have heard of a recent study, The Canadian National Breast Screening Study, published in The British Medical Journal, that raises questions about whether women in their 40s and 50s should be screened, saying it does not increase the survival rate for breast cancer. 

However, organizations including Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the American Cancer Society, and the American Society of Breast Surgeons continue to maintain that combined data from clinical trials of mammography show these screenings reduce the death rate from breast cancer by at least 15 percent for women in their 40s and by at least 20 percent for older women.

What Guidelines Should Women Follow?

Dr. Hanadi Bu-Ali, Breast Surgeon with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, says the benefits of mammography must be weighed against the harm. For example, a single round of screening in 1,000 women will find two to five invasive cancers and two to five benign biopsy procedures for every cancer detected.

“Mammography does not just translate to a higher rate of cancer detection, but it also decreases mortality from breast cancer since more breast cancers are curable when detected early,” she says.

Dr. Bu-Ali encourages annual screenings for women at 40 or even earlier for those with a family history of breast cancer. She also endorses self breast exams, despite concerns that patients may mistakenly feel masses that are not really there, leading to anxiety and possibly unnecessary visits.

“Self exams are free and can help identify ‘true’ problems early,” she says. 

Schedule a Mammogram

All Saints: 262-687-2600
Elmbrook Memorial: 414-527-5000
Franklin: 414-527-5000
St. Francis: 414-527-5000
St. Joseph: 414-527-5000
Wauwatosa Outpatient Center: 414-527-5000

How Often Should Women Have a Mammogram? The Latest Recommendations