How Often Should I Have a Mammogram?

In low risk patients, a mammogram is usually initiated at age 40. Mammograms should be done every one to two years between the ages of 40 and 50, and then yearly after 50. In women who have a strong family history of breast cancer, especially in first degree relatives, mammograms should be initiated sooner (usually 10 years earlier that when the family member was diagnosed with breast cancer). If patients have genetic predispositions to breast cancer, such as those with the BRCA gene, testing is initiated much sooner and much more intensively (in the 20s).

Who should be tested for the BRCA gene and what does it predispose you to?

The BRCA 1 and 2 genes dramatically increase the chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer.

Only 10% of breast and ovarian cancer is attributed to the BRCA gene, but if you carry one of these genes, each of your offspring has a 50% chance of getting the BRCA gene. 55-65% of BRCA1 patients and 45% of BRCA2 patients will develop breast cancer by age 70, and with ovarian cancer, 39% of BRCA1 and 11-17% of BRCA2 patients will get the disease by age 70. (Data from the national cancer institute)

Who should be tested for the BRCA gene?

Patients with strong family histories of breast cancer in multiple family members, Ashkenazi Jewish descent and breast cancer or male breast cancer, bilateral breast cancer or premenopausal breast cancer should be tested, as should any person who has a relative with ovarian cancer.

Are there any other cancers that are increased in patients with the BRCA gene?

There is also an increased risk of fallopian tube cancer, peritoneal cancer and pancreatic cancer, and men can have a higher rate of prostate cancer.

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Have questions about mammograms and the risk of breast cancer?

Schedule an appointment to chat with us at 516-365-6100. We answer questions like this every day and would love to meet you! We're conveniently located off the Northern State Parkway on New Hyde Park Road just minutes from North Shore University Hopital and Northwell Health.

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