Mammograms Remain Best Way to Spot Breast Cancer

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FRIDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Mammograms detect 80 percent to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms, and all women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram, says the American Cancer Society (ACS) as it marks National Mammography Day on Friday, Oct. 17.

"Mammography remains the most effective screening test for the early detection of breast cancer available to women today," Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the ACS's chief medical officer, said in a society news release. "Women are strongly urged to schedule their mammograms yearly and to talk to their doctor regularly about their risk for breast cancer."

Early detection by mammography screening and improvements in treatment have contributed to a decline in the breast cancer death rate in the United States since 1990. However, recent evidence suggests that many women are getting mammograms at a later age, not scheduling them yearly, or aren't receiving appropriate and timely follow-up after positive breast cancer screening results.

Along with recommending yearly mammograms and clinical breast examinations for women over age 40, the ACS says that women ages 20 to 39 should undergo clinical breast examination at least once every three years. All women should be familiar with their breasts and immediately report any changes to their health care provider.

Women at high risk for breast cancer (greater than a 20 percent lifetime risk) should have an annual MRI and mammogram, and women at moderate risk (15 percent to 20 percent lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram, the ACS recommends.

More information

Women can access a free online "mammogram reminder tool" at the American Cancer Society.

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