Harvard Women's Health Watch

Do you need mammograms?

Before you get your next mammogram, learn the pros and cons of this controversial screening test.

Once a year, we subject our breasts to the ritual ordeal of poking, prodding, and viselike squeezing known as a mammogram. We willingly endure this process because we know—or at least hope—that if we do get breast cancer, a mammogram will pick it up early enough to treat it and save our life.

Although much of the research has found that mammograms do reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer over the long term, these screening tests can have false-positive results, which could lead to unnecessary tests or treatments. Considering the risks and benefits, is it worthwhile to have routine mammograms?

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