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An annual mammogram can save your life

The best way to beat breast cancer is to find it early. Nearly all women survive breast cancer if it is found early, before it spreads. Mammography is the best way to find it early, before it can be felt, and before it spreads. 

Download the infographic: Mammography saves lives - the numbersThat's why Legacy Cancer Institute recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40. 

Learn more: Download the infographic.

Read more  about the fatally flawed study that's misleading women.


A 3-D mammogram found the cancer the 2-D mammogram missed

Legacy's recommendation

Women age 40 and older  Get a mammogram every year and continue to do so for as long as you are in good health. The best way to beat breast cancer is to find it early, and a mammogram is the best way to do that because it can find cancers well before they can be felt. Nearly all women survive breast cancer if its found early. Almost one in five Legacy breast cancer patients is younger than 50 - that is why we recommend starting at age 40.
Women in their 20s and 30s Have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular exam by a health expert, preferably every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health expert every year. It might be a good idea to have the CBE shortly before the mammogram. You can use the exam to learn what your own breasts look and feel like.
  Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any changes in how their breasts look or feel to a doctor or nurse right away.
  If you decide to do BSE, you should have your doctor or nurse check your method to make sure you are doing it right. If you do BSE on a regular basis, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Then you can more easily notice changes. But it's OK not to do BSE or not to do it on a fixed schedule.
  The most important thing is to see a doctor right away if you notice any of these changes: a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk. But remember that most of the time these breast changes are not cancer.
Women with a higher risk of breast cancer Talk with your doctor about the best approach for you. This might mean starting mammograms when you are younger, having extra screening tests, or having more frequent exams. Risk factors include family history, dense breasts and obesity. Talk with your doctor about your risk.
Learn more about dense breast tissue.
Learn about reducing your risk through lifestyle.

The controversy

In November 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggested that women begin routine mammogram screenings at age 50, and have them every two years to minimize radiation exposure and avoid the anxiety that some women feel. Since then, there have been some published studies that question the value of screening mammograms.

However, here are many large, well-designed studies that show that mammograms do save lives.

Legacy Cancer Institute, along with every major American medical organization with expertise in breast cancer, recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40. This is based on the best available science, and on our years of experience screening thousands of women for breast cancer. These organizations include:
•American Cancer Society
•American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
•American College of Radiology
•National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)
•Society of Breast Imaging 

All Legacy facilities use reduced radiation 3-D digital mammography, the most advanced technology that delivers the most precise images with the least amount of radiation. Legacy's four Breast Health Centers and Legacy Emanuel offer all patients 3-D mammography, which finds more cancers, at earlier stages. 3-D mammography also reduces the number of false alarms.

Learn more about 3-D mammography.