Experts disagree about screening guidelines. The American Cancer Society says women should get regular mammograms starting at age 40. But last November, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force caused a firestorm of controversy when it revised its screening recommendations, saying that women without personal risk factors should have their first mammogram at age 50 and then every 18 to 24 months after that.
In addition, the task force said women in their forties and over age 74 should make their decision about mammography on an individual basis, after speaking with their doctor.
So what's a woman to do? Know your body, your family history of breast cancer, and your own personal risk factors, says Dr. Esserman. Then talk to your doctor.