Breast Health Facts

We analyzed 12 years of data and found that of the breast cancers detected using screening mammography, over 20% were found in women ages 40-49 (1 in 5 women - slightly higher than the national average).

Why you should get your mammogram at age 40.

  • The recommendation from breast health experts is consistent: 40 is the age to schedule your first mammogram and start an annual routine. Since 75% of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease, there’s no reason to wait. Early detection saves lives.

  • Mammography is the only screening method that is consistently proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. In addition, early detection through mammography gives women more treatment options with reduced surgery, better cosmetic outcomes, and often eliminates the need for harsh therapies. This low-cost and safe tool is the major reason breast cancer deaths have declined by 30% since 1990, when screening guidelines were enforced in the U.S. And since breast cancer found in women under age 50 is often more aggressive, it’s imperative to schedule your mammogram every 12 months.

  • Most major breast health experts and organizations, including Charlotte Radiology, fully support the American Cancer Society’s recommendation advising annual screening mammograms starting at 40. As one of the largest private breast cancer screening programs in the country, Charlotte Radiology’s patient data supports this recommendation.

American Cancer Society Guidelines for Early Detection

Screening Mammography Annually starting at age 40
CBE (Clinical Breast Examination) Every three years for women 20-39; annually for women 40 and older
BSE (Breast Self Examination) Monthly starting at age 20
Breast MRI Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.

Fast facts about mammography:

  • Mammograms show changes in the breast up to 2 years before a patient or physician can feel them.

  • Early cancer detection - the purpose of mammography - is important for reasons beyond the lives it saves. For cancers detected early, surgery is less drastic and usually allows for preservation of the breast.

  • The two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and growing older.

  • Mammography is a low-cost and safe tool for breast cancer screening, with the amount of radiation exposure comparable to flying across the country.

  • Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer) and is the most common cancer among women, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers.

  • Women with greater than 20% lifetime risk of breast cancer (based on family history, genetics testing, prior atypical pathology, previous thoracic radiation therapy and other factors) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year.

  • The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40+ have a screening mammogram every year - even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer.

  • Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the US by nearly 1/3 (30%) since 1990.

  • The ten year risk for breast cancer in a 40-year old woman is 1 in 69.

  • 1 in 6 breast cancers occur in women aged 40-49.

  • 75% of women with breast cancer have NO family history and are not considered high risk.

  • 1 in 8 women is affected by breast cancer in their lifetime.

  • Of all the years of life saved by mammography, 40% are for women in their 40’s.

  • Even for women 50+, skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers.
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