Knowing when to start breast cancer screenings is critical for early detection. Follow this timeline for breast care throughout your life to ensure your peace of mind and optimal health.
Timely breast cancer screenings allow doctors to detect cancer in its early stages, when treatment is most effective. Women in their 40s and 50s experience the highest rates of diagnosis, but there are steps you can take at every stage of life to monitor and reduce your risks of breast cancer. Review this simple timeline to know when to start breast cancer screenings in Little Rock.
Right Now: Perform Breast Self-Exams
No matter how old you are, a breast self-exam should be a part of your regular care routine. The earlier you detect abnormalities, the earlier your doctor can either rule out breast cancer or begin treatments. Become familiar with the texture, shape, and size of your healthy breasts so that lumps and inconsistencies are immediately noticeable. If you notice any changes, such as lumps, painful spots, or size irregularities, report them right away. A doctor who specializes in women’s health can show you exactly how to perform a breast self-exam and answer any questions you may have.
Age 30: Evaluate Your Risks
At age 30, you should determine whether you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s guidelines, you are at higher risk if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, genetic mutations that increase your risk, or prior radiation therapy to the chest.
If you are at high risk for breast cancer, you should get an MRI and mammogram every year. While mammograms use X-ray technology to detect cancer before it can be felt, breast MRIs use magnetic radio waves to take even more detailed pictures of breast tissue.
Age 40: Schedule Annual Mammograms
At age 40, you should begin talking to your doctor about your breast cancer risks if you have not already done so and prioritize breast cancer screenings to closely monitor your health. You should get a mammogram every year for the next 15 years. If your doctor feels you are at high risk for breast cancer, you should also undergo annual breast MRIs. The Affordable Care Act requires every insurer to cover annual screenings, so cost should not be a factor in your decision to undergo breast cancer screening in Little Rock.
Age 55: Schedule Mammograms Every Other Year
At age 55, both your breast cancer risks and frequency of breast cancer screenings decrease. Unless your doctor recommends annual mammograms to accommodate unique risk factors, it is generally okay to switch your mammogram schedule to every other year. If you are 55 or older, the American Cancer Society recommends mammograms every two years, which should continue as long as you are in good health.
If you are interested in breast cancer screening in Little Rock, contact The Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131 to schedule an appointment with a member of our experienced, compassionate staff.