MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Rolla     ●    St. Louis - Health



Quick Answers


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

The National Cancer Institute recommends that women in their 40s and older have a screening mammogram (a breast x-ray in women with no signs of breast cancer) every one to two years.

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.


Source: "Ask the CIS" by the Cancer Information Service. "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.

Can't Find Your Question Here? Try Searching Our Quick Answer Knowledge Base

Last update: Tuesday, November 25, 2008




University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator: 
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri-Columbia