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Guidelines for Early Detection

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Mammography Can Save Your Life!

About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

And yet, a diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer can be beaten. That's because of two life-saving words: early detection.

The different stages of cancer are assigned numerical values between zero and four. For breast cancer, this number is assigned based on two factors: the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other organs in the body, explains the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The five-year relative survival rate for patients who receive treatment for breast cancer in Stages 0 or 1 is 100%, says the American Cancer Society. This means that people with Stage 0 or 1 cancer have the same chance of living 5 years post-treatment as people who did not have cancer.

Guidelines for Early Detection

There has been lots of conversation about when and how often women should have an annual mammogram. There are several schools of thought that are worth understanding.

American College of Radiology Guidelines:

  • Women should begin annual screening mammograms at age 40.
  • Women age 40 and over should get mammograms every year.

American Cancer Society Guidelines:

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
  • Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
  • All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away. Learn more.