October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point. The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram – the screening test for breast cancer – can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast to check for breast cancer. Mammograms can help find breast cancer early. Most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
- If you are age 40 through 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
- If you are age 50 to 74, get mammograms every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.
Together, you and your doctor can decide what’s best for you.
Mammograms for women over age 40 are covered under the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get mammograms at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance provider.
Like all medical tests, mammograms have pros and cons. These pros and cons depend on your age and your risk for breast cancer. Use the questions below to start a conversation with your doctor about mammograms.
What canI ask my doctor about mammograms?
It helps to have questions for the doctor written down ahead of time. Print this list of questions and take it to your next appointment. You may want to ask a family member or close friend to go with you to take notes.
- Do I have risk factors for breast cancer?
- Based on my risk factors, what are my chances of getting breast cancer?
- What will happen when I go to get mammograms?
- How long will it take to get the results of my mammograms?
- If I don’t hear back about the results of my mammograms, does that mean everything is okay?
If you are under age 50, you might want to ask:
- Should I start getting regular mammograms? If so, how often?
- What are the pros and cons of getting mammograms before age 50?
If you are between ages 50 and 74, you might want to ask:
- How often should I get mammograms?
- What are the pros and cons of getting mammograms every 2 years instead of every year?