Mammography FAQs

Q: At What Age Should I Start Getting Mammograms?

A: While advice can vary, we recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40, the age when breast cancer rates begin to rise. When making recommendations, experts try to balance risks and benefits. Risks can include anxiety due to false positives and additional imaging. Benefits include catching breast cancer early and saving lives.

Q: How Often Should I Have a Mammogram?

A: Yearly mammograms find more breast cancers. Compared to screening every other year starting at age 50, annual mammograms starting at age 40 save 6,500 more lives per year.

Q: No One in My Family Has Breast Cancer. Do I still Need to Have a Mammogram?

A: Yes. Most women who get breast cancer (75 percent) did not have any known risk or family history.

Q: I Have a High Risk for Breast Cancer. Should I Get a Mammogram More Often than Once a Year?

A: Women with a high risk for breast cancer may benefit from extra screening. This can include a 3D tomosynthesis mammogram, MRI, and genetic testing. Talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 40 if you have a family history of early-onset breast cancer (age 45 or younger).

Q: What Are the Risks of Having a Mammogram?

A: The risks are low and include:

  • Anxiety about the procedure.
  • False positives. Taking a few extra pictures of the breast clears up most mammogram false positives. Only 2 percent of women need a biopsy.
  • Radiation. The small amount of radiation in a mammogram is comparable to what you get from the natural environment over a two-month period. No cancers are known to have come from mammograms.

Q: Can I Have a Screening Mammogram if I Am Pregnant?

A: If there’s a chance you might be pregnant, let your healthcare provider and technologist know. Although the risk to the fetus is likely very small, screening mammograms aren’t routinely done on pregnant women.

Q: Are There Different Types of Digital Mammograms?

A: Yes. We offer both traditional and 3D tomosynthesis mammograms.