Get a mammogram or don’t get a mammogram?

Charlotte Hofer, Special to Today
11/30/09

The only words more devastating than, “You have cancer,” are hearing the words, “You have cancer, and we didn’t find it early enough.”

There’s been a lot of talk about cancer screenings lately. Many women are wondering if they still need to get a mammogram. So, for the record, here’s what the American Cancer Society has to say about mammograms: We’ve examined the evidence, and our guidelines have not changed. ACS recommends annual screening for mammography starting at age 40.

This year alone, over 40,000 women will die of breast cancer. And while mammography is not perfect, getting a mammogram is currently the most effective way to detect cancer early because it can identify breast cancer before symptoms develop, when the disease is most treatable.

Bottom line, mammography saves lives, and we urge women to continue to follow our guidelines. For more on the American Cancer Society and Cancer Screening. For cancer information anytime, visit ACS online.

The American Cancer Society and Cancer Screening

Screening refers to tests used to find cancer in people who do not have any symptoms. The goal of screening exams, such as mammograms, is to find cancers before they cause symptoms.

With breast cancer screening, the American Cancer Society continues to recommend women age 40 and over receive an annual mammogram. Women at high-risk should talk with their doctors about when screening should begin based on their family history. These guidelines have not changed and we need women to hear this life-saving message.

The society also encourages men and women at average risk to be screened for colon cancer beginning at age 50. Women are urged to be screened for cervical cancer three years after they become sexually active, but no later than age 21. For prostate cancer, since 1997, the Society has encouraged men to make informed decisions by talking with their doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is right for them.

The society will continue to make evidence-based cancer screening recommendations, and strives to provide clear messages about these tests to patients and doctors. We constantly review our guidelines as new evidence becomes available.

Society screening guidelines are posted online.

About ACS

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight.

As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, at (800) 227-2345 or visit the Web site.

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