When do I need a mammogram? Making sense of confusing guidelines

Screening, Topics, What You Should Know

It’s not news that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. But with different recommendations for screening mammograms floating around, it’s often difficult to determine what’s right for you. Before you delay a mammogram, talk with your physician — your family history and overall health may be factors to take into consideration when deciding when to schedule the screening.

“My recommendation, and the recommendation from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American College of Radiology, is that women age 40 and older get an annual mammogram,” says Dr. Kimberley Clark-Paul, a breast surgeon at McLaren Port Huron. “If you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s important to talk with your provider to see if you should be screened sooner.”

And if you notice any changes in your breasts, talk with your provider right away. This includes:
any new lumps or bumps in the breast or armpit 
thickening or swelling in part of the breast
irritation or dimpling of the skin on the breast
redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
nipple discharge

“Knowing your body and what’s ‘normal’ for you is critical,” says Dr. Clark-Paul. “Doing a regular self-breast exam can help keep this top of mind, and if you ever find anything unusual, sharing that information with a provider is important.” 

Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, talking with your provider and scheduling your annual mammogram are key components to detecting breast cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful. 

Ready to schedule your mammogram? At McLaren Port Huron, it’s easier than ever – you can book an appointment online at a time that’s convenient for you. Just visit www.mclaren.org/phmymammo