Breast Cancer Screening
- Main Page
- Risk Factors
- Reducing Your Risk
- Talking to Your Doctor
- Resource Guide
Screening is done to find a problem and treat it early. Tests are given to people who do not have symptoms but who may be at high risk.
Screening guidelines differ and can be confusing. The doctor can advise how often a person should be screened.
The chart below is from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Cancer Society, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Screening Guidelines for Average Risk
||No recommendation given.||Not recommended, but encourage breast self-awareness.|
||No recommendation given.||No recommendation given, but encourage breast self-awareness.|
||Not recommended, but encourage breast self-awareness.|
All women should be aware of changes in their breasts, no matter what age. This includes: It is important to talk to the doctor about any breast area changes.
Screening Guidelines for High Risk
Those at high risk for breast cancer may be screened more often or at an earlier age.
The American Cancer Society recommends a yearly mammogram with an MRI scan starting at age 30 years for women with:
- A high risk score
- One of the BRCA genes—if tested
- Mother, sister, or child with BRCA genes—if not tested
- A history of high-dose radiation to the chest from ages 10 to 30 years
- A personal history, or a mother, sister, or child with certain syndromes that increase risk of breast cancer, such as:
The USPSTF recommends:
- Monthly breast self-exams for women aged 18 to 21 years
- For women aged 25 to 35 years:
- Clinical breast exam every 6 to 12 months
- Yearly mammogram
ACOG recommends that high-risk women consider regular breast self-exams.
There are 3 main tests that the doctor may advise. Each one has risks, harms, and benefits:
- —This exam not been shown to lower the risk of death from cancer. The doctor can show a person how to do the exam the correct way.
- —The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms. This is to check for lumps or other changes.
- —A machine takes an x-ray of the breast. It may find tumors that are too small to be felt. Mammograms miss breast cancer in some women. Sometimes they also appear to show a tumor when one is not there. Despite this, they are the most useful tool to find breast cancer.
Other Imaging Tests
MRI scans may be used to screen high-risk women.
- American Cancer Society recommendations for the early detection of breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/american-cancer-society-recommendations-for-the-early-detection-of-breast-cancer.html. Accessed March 25, 2022.
- Breast cancer: Screening. United States Preventive Services Task Force website. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/breast-cancer-screening. Accessed March 25, 2022.
- Breast cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/breast-cancer-screening. Accessed March 25, 2022.
- 7/17/2017 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T361086/Breast-cancer-screening: Committee on Practice Bulletins—Gynecology. Practice bulletin number 179: breast cancer risk assessment and screening in average-risk women. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;130(1):e1-e16.