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Dear Doctor de la Flor
I’m 41 and I’ve never had a mammogram.
- Should I start having a yearly mammogram done?
For my patients, I don’t recommend a standard annual mammogram.
You need to determine your personal risk factors with your physician to establish what your specific needs are. In general however, most protocols recommend a mammogram every one or two years for women aged 40 and over.It’s essential that your GP knows you and your family history, because you might need it every two years or perhaps even less often depending on your personal medical history. After all, even doctors sometimes seem to forget that every time you do a mammogram, you are exposing your body to x-rays…. And that’s serious stuff.
The primary factor that changes the protocol is if there is a history of breast cancer in your family. In those cases women should get their first mammogram 10 years before their relatives were diagnosed.
In addition, women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam performed by a doctor every three years to feel for suspicious lumps and bumps. After age 40, a doctor’s breast exam should be done every year. Although there are no definitive studies showing the benefit of breast self-exams, the American Cancer Society says breast self-exams may be a useful option for women starting in their 20s.
Dr. De La Flor, G.P. is licensed in medicine & general surgery. He holds certificates in nutrition, medical exercise and human performance from the University of Berkeley in California, the American Council on Exercise and the U.S. National Strength & Conditioning Association. He is a strong believer in work/life balance and spends much of his time outside of his surgery on the tennis court or chasing his four kids around the neighborhood.
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