A Guide to Your First Mammogram
It is not unusual for any woman to be nervous about having her first mammogram. Find out what to expect at your first mammogram.
Most screening tests are requested by your primary care doctor or gynecologist. Talk to your doctor about the various screenings you may need as you approach 40 to see what’s right for you based on your personal risk factors.
If you don’t have a doctor, there are things you can do and places you can call to find out how to get the screening tests you need. Call a local hospital, medical clinic, or health department and explain your situation, they might be able to guide you to a facility that does the screening test or to a clinic or doctor that can help.
Screening for cancer is typically covered by insurance. Each screening process is different and can include some of these testing procedures.
Exam of specific areas of the body used to help detect abnormalities:
Tests that produce pictures of areas within the body:
Tests that check; blood, urine, and other body fluids and tissues
Visual examinations by a health care professional
Most women won't experience symptoms of breast cancer, especially in the early stages. That's why screening is so important!
It's good to know how your breasts normally look and feel so you can report any changes to a health care provider right away.
Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is very small.)
The American Cancer Society recommends against MRI screening for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.
What’s New? American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) now recommend that ALL women should be evaluated for breast cancer risk no later than age 30 (review personal and family history and complete risk-assessment).
Learn more about breast cancer screening and watch our video to see if it’s right for you.
Talk to your gynecologist or primary care physician at your annual exam about the right breast cancer screening schedule for you.
Start screening with mammogram annually.
Should continue with mammograms if their overall health is good, and they have a life expectancy of 10 or more years
Women who are high risk for breast cancer should get a breast MRI and a mammogram annually, typically starting 10 years prior to earliest breast cancer diagnosis in the family. Risk factors include:
For many women, a diagnosis of cervical cancer comes without warning since in its earliest stages there may be no signs or symptoms that something is wrong. Doctors recommend that women help reduce their risk of cervical cancer by having regular Pap tests. A Pap test (sometimes called Pap smear or cervical smear) is a simple test used to look at cervical cells. Pap tests can find cervical cancer or abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer.
What’s New? The age recommendation for screening has moved to 21.
No screening needed.
Cytology (PAP) once every three years.
Women should have an HPV test every five years
or a PAP every three years or HPV/PAP co-test every five years.
No screening needed if a series of prior tests were normal.
Screening for colorectal cancer is important because symptoms rarely appear until the tumor has grown considerably.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include your age, race, personal history of polyps and your family history of polyps and colorectal cancer. People of average risk should start talking to their doctors about colorectal screening at age 45. If you're at high risk screening might start sooner.
Some risk factors for developing colorectal cancer can be controlled such as:
VISUAL (STRUCTURAL) EXAMS OF THE COLON AND RECTUM
What’s New? The age recommendation for screening has changed from 50 to 45 years old, April 2021.
Learn more about colorectal cancer screening.
Talk to your primary care physician at your annual exam about the right colorectal cancer screening schedule for you.
Testing may be recommended if patient has a higher than-average risk of colon cancer.
People at average risk (are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years) should continue regular colorectal cancer screenings.
The decision to be screened should be based on patient preference, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.
Should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.
People who are at an increased or high risk for colorectal cancer might need screening before the age of 45, be screened more often, and/or get specific tests. Risk factors include:
Screening is important because it can prevent colorectal cancer by finding anything abnormal and treating it promptly before it develops into cancer.
A lung cancer screening test is now available for those who qualify based on their history of smoking. A low-dose chest CT scan is performed to see if there are early signs of cancer developing in the lungs.
Age 50-80: Annual lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) if you are:
What’s New? As of March 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) revised the recommended ages and pack-years for lung cancer screening. It expanded the age range from 50-80 years (previously 55 to 80 years) and reduced the pack-year history to 20 pack-years of smoking (previously 30 pack-years).
Learn more about lung cancer screening and watch our video to see if it’s right for you.
Talk to your primary care physician at your annual exam about the right lung cancer screening schedule for you.
Not everyone needs to be screened for lung cancer. Learn more about who qualifies to be screened for lung cancer.
Patients who are considered high risk should have an MRI/MRCP and/or endoscopic ultrasound annually, starting at age 50 (or 10 years prior to the earliest diagnosis in the family).
Risk factors include:
Starting at age 50, men should talk to a health care provider about the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them.
If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with a health care provider starting at age 45.
If you decide to be tested, you should get a PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you’re tested will depend on your PSA level.
Learn more about prostate cancer screening and watch our video to see if it’s right for you.
Talk to your urologist or primary care physician at your annual exam about the right prostate cancer screening schedule for you.
No screening needed.
Consider screening with a PSA for average-risk patients. The decision to screen with PSA should be based on patient preference, family history, and current health.
Should not be routinely screened for prostate cancer.
Consider screening with PSA in high-risk populations and African Americans with a positive family history starting at age 40. Risk factors include:
Learn more about prostate cancer and how it's screened. Talk to your doctor about when you should start screening for prostate cancer.
Periodic skin examinations are the key to diagnosing skin cancer at its earliest stage, when it is most easily cured.
If you’re at increased risk for skin cancer, you may need an annual skin cancer screening exam. You may be at increased risk if you have:
Even if you aren’t at increased risk, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your skin. If you notice an irregular mole or spot, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist for a diagnostic exam.
Learn more about skin cancer screening and watch our video to see if it’s right for you.
Talk to your dermatologist or primary care physician at your annual exam about the right skin cancer screening schedule for you.