Prevention & Recovery

When should you get a mammogram

Photography by Geneviève Caron Image by: Photography by Geneviève Caron Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

When should you get a mammogram

After decades of being told to check their breasts regularly, many Canadian women and their doctors became concerned when the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care, an organization that develops clinical practice guidelines for health care in Canada, updated its breast-screening guidelines in 2011. The new recommendations eliminated breast examinations for average-risk women under age 50. Here’s what they said:

-Women aged 40 to 49 should wait until age 50 for routine mammography screening.
-Women aged 50 to 74 should be screened with mammography every two to three years.
-Health professionals shouldn’t perform routine in-office clinical breast exams on asymptomatic women.
-Physicians should no longer advise women to practise at-home breast self-exams.

Despite changes to screening protocols, doctors still recommend that women remain self-aware of any changes in their breasts.

Depending on the province or territory in which you live and your health situation, the task force’s guidelines might not be applicable to you. Have a proactive discussion with your physician about screening in order to make the best decision for monitoring your breast health.

Mammogram alternatives
New screening tools such as molecular breast imaging, tomosynthesis and automated ultrasound are currently being developed to provide additional screening resources. One new technology that hasn’t yet been endorsed by medical practitioners or licensed by Health Canada is thermography. “It’s not approved for screening or diagnostic work, and there’s no scientific data to support its use in the detection of breast cancer," says Dr. Wilson.

Did you know your breasts have a tail? Find out 10 surprising breast facts.

This content is vetted by medical experts

This story was originally titled "When Should You Get a Mammogram?" in the October 2014 issue.

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Prevention & Recovery

When should you get a mammogram