What Is It?
Mammography is a series of X-rays that shows images of the soft tissues of the breast. It is a valuable screening procedure that can detect breast cancer early, as long as two years before a lump can be felt. For women ages 50 to 74 with an average risk of breast cancer, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends mammography once every 2 years. Other medical societies and organizations recommend yearly mammograms.
For women between ages 40 and 50, the benefits of mammography for women at average breast cancer risk continue to be debated. The USPSTF does not recommend routine screening for women in this age group. However, the Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that women start routine screening with mammography at the age of 40. While the American Cancer Society recommends 45 as the age to begin screening.