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Mammogram news

Heartland Cancer Information Service, National Cancer Institute

What is the latest on how often to have screening mammograms?

The National Cancer Institute recommends that women age 40 and over get a mammogram every year, along with a breast exam by a doctor or nurse.

Women with higher-than-average risk of breast cancer should talk with their health care providers about when to begin mammograms and how often to have them. Factors that may increase a woman's risk of breast cancer include:

  • Age: A woman is more likely to develop breast cancer as she gets older.
  • Personal history of breast cancer: A woman who has had breast cancer is at higher risk for developing the disease again.
  • Family history of breast cancer: The risk rises for women with a mother, sister or daughter who has had the disease.
  • History of certain non-cancerous breast conditions: These conditions include atypical hyperplasia (breast cells that have abnormal features and are increased in number) and lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells in the small lobes of the breast).
  • Genes: Alterations (changes from the norm) in certain genes increase risk.
  • Exposure to hormones: Breast cancer risk is higher for women who began having periods at age 11 or younger, gave birth to a first child at a late age, and/or went through menopause at age 55 or older. Breast cancer risk also is higher for women who use a combination estrogen-progestin menopausal hormone therapy for more than five years.
  • Breast density: Breast cancer nearly always develops in the dense tissue of the breast rather than the fatty tissue. For this reason, older women with mostly dense breasts are at higher risk. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

How much does a mammogram cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and almost all private insurance plans now cover annual mammograms, with no co-pay or other out-of-pocket costs. Medicaid also covers mammograms. For uninsured or low-income women, free or low-cost programs are available. Some programs are held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, while others are offered year-round. Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 to find a program near you.


“Ask the CIS” is distributed by the Cancer Information Service (CIS) of the Heartland, which serves Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri & Illinois. The CIS is a program of the National Cancer Institute. Call the CIS toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. local time.


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Last Updated 10/05/2015