Your first mammogram: What to expect
Breast cancer screening exams help find breast cancer at an early stage. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.
Along with regular exams, practice awareness. This means you should stay familiar with your breasts. That way you’ll notice changes, like a new lump or mass. Then, report them to your doctor without delay.
The screening recommendations below apply to most women.
Age 20 to 39
- Clinical breast exam every one to three years (A health care provider checks for lumps or other changes.)
Age 40 and older
- Clinical breast exam every year
- Mammogram every year
Exams for women at increased risk
Women at increased risk have a higher chance of getting breast cancer. This doesn’t mean you will definitely get cancer. But, you may need to start screening at an earlier age, get additional tests or be tested more often.
You’re at increased risk for breast cancer if you fall under one or more of these groups.
- History of radiation treatment to the chest
- Genetic mutation, including an abnormality in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes, CDH1, Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba Syndrome
- History of lobular carcinoma in situ
- Five-year risk of breast cancer 1.7% or greater at age 35 or older, as defined by a Gail Model calculation. Calculate your risk using the Gail Model.
- A life-time risk of breast cancer 20% or greater, as defined by models dependent on family history. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer should consider speaking with a genetic counselor.
Suspect you may be at increased risk? Print and share MD Anderson’s breast cancer screening chart with your doctor.
Exams for women who have had breast cancer
If you’ve had breast cancer, you need a different plan to check for cancer recurrence.
Print the MD Anderson survivorship chart below that best describes your cancer. And share it with your doctor. Your doctor can use this chart to create a more tailored plan for you.
The screening plans on this page apply to women expected to live for at least 10 years. They’re not for women who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat breast cancer. Your doctor can help you decide if you should continue screening after age 75.
June 07, 2017
When I turned 40 and it was time to schedule my first mammogram, I was hesitant to do so. I’ve heard many frightening stories about how painful and terrifying they can be, and I had a lot of questions.
Should I take a day off of work to mentally prepare? Should I not take a shower or wear deodorant the day of the appointment? Am I mentally prepared to accept the test results? Should I practice yoga poses before the procedure? &...