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How Often You Should Have a Mammogram?

In recent years, there’ve been many articles questioning the value of screening mammography for women starting at age 40. These articles garner publicity and confuse everyone, health care providers and the public alike, regarding the efficacy of screening for breast cancer.

Study Based on Outdated Technology

Most recently, a Canadian study – published in the February 11, 2014, edition of the British Medical Journal – reported that screening mammography offers no life-saving benefit for women. The study actually has little relevance to today’s mammography. It’s based on data obtained from mammograms taken mainly in the 1980s – when mammography was still in its infancy.

Dr. Lawrence Bennett, Chief of Women’s Imaging at South Sound Radiology, is concerned that flawed studies like this one will lead women to believe that annual mammography exams are no longer significant nor life-saving.

“When you review the mammographic literature, it is important to review the paper critically, but also to understand when and how the imaging was performed,” said Dr. Bennett. “Breast imaging is now digital with greatly improved resolution – the Canadian study was performed with early screen film mammography, an outdated technique.”

Established Recommendations are Sound

Dr. Bennett encourages women to follow established recommendations. “The American Cancer Society’s guidelines – which state that women age 40 and older should get a mammogram once a year – are sound,” Dr. Bennett said. “At South Sound Radiology, we find twice as many cancers through screening mammography than the Canadian study claimed to find, and we are more likely to detect them early in women who have regular mammograms.”

South Sound Radiology firmly supports annual mammography screening beginning at age 40.

Still Have Questions?

If you have any follow-up questions or concerns about breast mammography and women’s imaging, talk to your primary care provider.


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