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All About the Latest Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

All About the Latest Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Sources vary and contradict one another, so health guidelines and recommendations can be confusing, from how much exercise we should get each week to which foods are the healthiest for us.

One hotly debated area in women’s health care is the all-important breast cancer screening, the mammogram. When should you get your first one, and how often should you schedule your mammograms after that if you’re at average risk? 

Dr. Keven Hooker stays current on the latest women’s health screening guidelines because he and the Lake Havasu OB/GYN Care team are committed to providing you with the most advanced obstetric and gynecologic care that follows the most current recommendations. 

When should you get your first mammogram? Recommendations have changed

Thoughts turn to the pink ribbon every October since it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is the ideal time to think about when you should get your baseline or first mammogram, the one to which we compare all others, and how often you should undergo screening after that.

In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that women at average risk for breast cancer get their first mammogram at age 50 and get screened every other year after that.

This guideline caused consternation and confusion because many other highly respected organizations advocated mammograms starting at age 40, meaning a woman’s OB/GYN or primary care provider would discuss the benefits of mammograms with patients and that women could get one as early as 40.


The USPSTF changed its guidelines this year, aligning itself with several respected organizations, such as the American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Now, they all advise initial screening at 40.


This change is important because studies have determined that women in their 40s are diagnosed with breast cancer more often, and Black women, who are 40% more likely to die from the disease, are also more likely to be diagnosed in their 40s with more aggressive cancers. 


These facts reflect that when mammograms begin at 40, more lives are saved, and these advantages outweigh disadvantages, such as false-positive results (where cancer is suspected but isn’t ultimately present in the breast).

How often should women be screened for breast cancer — every year or every other year?

The USPSTF advocates breast cancer screening every two years instead of annually and has not changed its stance. However, ACOG and other organizations recommend annual screenings, and Dr. Hooker follows these guidelines and advises his average-risk patients to do the same. 


Beyond the institutional guidelines, Dr. Hooker sees you as a unique individual and discusses your specific breast cancer risk to determine when you should get your first screening and how often you should be tested. 


He considers whether you have a family history of breast cancer, age, when you had your first period, when you had your first child (if you’re a mother), and other factors. 


The breast cancer screening guidelines Dr. Hooker has adopted prioritize early detection, critical to breast cancer survival. The good news is that the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer that hasn’t spread beyond the breast is an incredible 99%


Dr. Hooker cares about every aspect of your health, and preventive care like the mammogram is key to realizing positive outcomes. 


Call our Lake Havasu City office at 928-683-1667 to make an appointment with Dr. Hooker to discuss your breast cancer screening schedule, or request one online

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