The differing viewpoints regarding mammograms from various national organizations can be confusing for both patients and physicians.

After careful review of the literature, the Center for Breast Health at Carroll Hospital recommends:

 • Starting yearly screening with mammography at age 40 and continuing as long as a woman’s life expectancy is at least 10 years (meaning she is otherwise in a good state of health). Tomosynthesis (or creating a 3-D image of the breast using X-rays) should be considered especially in those with dense breast tissue.

• Screening every other year is an option for older postmenopausal women. Patients should discuss the pros and cons of this approach with their doctor. Women with dense breast tissue who are in good health should continue yearly mammograms and consider tomosynthesis.

• Careful examination of the breasts remains an important part of the general physical examination and should be completed yearly.

• Some women—because of their family history, a genetic tendency or certain other factors—can be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. The number of women who fall into this category is small. Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.

Women should continue to be familiar with their breasts, and report any changes to their physicians, including:

• A lump, knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area

• Swelling, warmth or redness, or darkening of the breast

• Change in size or shape of the breast

• Dimpling or puckering of the skin

• Itchy, scaly, sore or rash on the nipple

• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly

• New pain in one spot that does not go away

Carroll Hospital offers numerous support resources for those facing breast cancer, including cancer education and programs.

For more information, please contact the Center for Breast Health at Carroll Hospital at 410-871-7080.