How often should women have mammograms?

Article of reference is here at the ACOG site.

Every time I turn around, there are new recommendations about mammograms.   Some say not to start them until you are 50…some say not to start until you are in your 40’s, but only every 2-3 years.  Now in a recent article from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist has issued new guidelines for mammography screening.   They are recommending them being offered yearly starting at age 40.

When I was about 38-almost 39, my doctor started me with mammograms.  I didn’t have a history on my maternal side of the family, but my paternal grandmother had it, and it is possible that her mother had it as well.   I was told by my doctor that it was important to have them annually.  Now, I missed one or two myself.  I think I was supposed to have one last year, but my doctor’s office forgot to schedule it with me, and in my busyness, I never got back with them…. but about 2 years ago, I had my first scare… there was a spot on my mammogram film, and I had to have a sonogram done.  It ended up being dense breast tissue and nothing to be concerned about, but I know God and I spent A LOT of time together that day while waiting for my results!  I can’t imagine waiting until I was 50….

I digress…. back to the article.

Do you realize that while I was researching this article, there were websites that were saying that doctors shouldn’t teach their patients how to do breast self exams?  Are they crazy?  I had a friend DIE of breast cancer.  She found the lump in her MID 20’s by a breast self exam!  How would it be explained to her family if she died without ever knowing she had cancer?   That is just crazy in my opinion.

So what are your thoughts?  Have you had a mammogram?  When will you start if you haven’t?  Do you do breast self exams?   Do you know how?


  1. At 53, I’ve had two or three mammograms – so far. My first one was at age 40, right after my older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course, something suspicious showed up, and 13 years ago, the techniques were not as asthetically oriented as they are now. I’ve got a 4″ scar that opened up when healing, and is now very visible on the top curve of my breast. I have had two mammograms since then, but I am VERY loathe to have them too frequently. All that radiation is not a good idea.

    I get irritated with the medical community, especially where it concerns women, to keep crawfishing on frequency of exams. Every year! NOT every year! Every two years! Not until 50! Not until 40! And don’t get me started on the the hormone replacement debate. Even we educated women don’t know what to do any more.

    It would be nice if “they” could arrive at some kind of consensus, and stick to it!

  2. I am 43 and I started getting them at age 40 and I get one every year. I don’t have any family history but that is what my doctor suggest and lucklly the insurance pays most of it. I am not taking any chances. That and my pap are a must!

  3. i’m only 21, but i do self exams every one or two months. cancer in a few forms is scattered throughout both sides of my family.

  4. I have done self exams since my teens (I am now in my 30’s). However I chose to not get mammograms. Should a question arise about something felt in an exam I will opt for an ultra sound or thermography, as these tests are much gentler to the breasts and do not bombard this delicate tissue with radiation.
    These are my own personal opinions.
    I do support everyone’s opinion on here 100% and am not trying to say that one is better over another. This is just what I have chosen for myself.

  5. Anyone who has a family history of breast cancer and all women over 40 should have a yearly mammogram. Forget about the self exam, by the time you feel it it is bigger than if you had a positive mammogram and if there is a question on the exam “insist on the newer ultrasound” or find out where you can get one. You want to find it at stage 1 which you will “never” find with a self exam. I repeat if you have a family history over 40 get the exam yearly don’t skip a year; you don’t want to find a lump in a self exam because by then it is much harder to treat. Why gamble with your life, you are 1 out of 4 or 5 depending on the latest stats. With those odds the exam seems like a no brainer.

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