Understanding New Mammogram Guidelines

This week, the American Cancer Society (ACS) announced updates to its breast cancer screening guidelines for women with an average risk of breast cancer. In a statement published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the ACS outlines the new recommendations:

  • Women ages 45-54 should have a mammogram every year.
  • Women age 55 and above, should be screened every other year.

Previously, the ACS recommended annual mammograms for all women 40 years and older. So what does this change mean for you? Both the ACS and the US Preventive Services Task Force, which released proposed guidelines earlier this year, agree that women should talk with their doctors in order to consider individual risk factors.

“Women may see the headline, but not realize the guidelines apply to those with an average risk for breast cancer,” says Daina Pack, MD, diagnostic radiologist and chief of breast imaging at The Breast Center at Anne Arundel Medical Center. “The reality is mammography remains the single best tool we have for early detection of breast cancer, and there’s no one-size-fits-all guideline or solution.”

That’s why it’s important to talk with your personal physician to decide when you should start getting mammograms. Together, the two of you can discuss your overall health, family history, and other risk factors to make the best decision for you.

 If you need help finding a primary care provider near you, please visit askAAMC.org/FindADoc or call 443-481-5555.

Daina Pack, MD
, is a diagnostic radiologist and chief of breast imaging at The Breast Center at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

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