Most women should start screening mammograms at age 40 or 10 years younger than the youngest affected family member. With your specific family history however, it is possible that your family may carry a gene mutation which increases your risk of developing cancer beyond that of the general population. I would recommend genetic testing for either your mother or grandmother and then specific screening recommendations for you based on their results. If your primary care physician or Ob/Gyn is not familiar with these tests or guidelines then feel free to come in for a consultation and I will gladly assist you.
Dr. Karen Weiss
However, if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you may
qualify for earlier screening exams. You should have an annual exam with
your Ob/Gyn to discuss these risks and complete a breast exam. I would
recommend scheduling an appointment with your Ob/Gyn to discuss
your family history and personal risk of breast cancer.
#1. Hopefully, your mother and/or grandmother are still living and if so, have they ever been tested for the breast cancer gene (BRAC)? If not, I would highly recommend that be looked into. If they are positive, that would increase your risk and would highly recommend that you then be tested. If they have been tested and are negative, that would provide you some protection, but you still have a significant family history.
#2 when should you start having mammograms. You can start them at any time, but they might be less reliable in a younger woman given density of breasts. Also, concern with exposing your breast/chest to excessive amounts of radiation. Some experts would advocate you undergo MRI examination of your breasts since it does not involve radiation, but that is a costly test and good chance your insurance may not cover.
#3 if undergo mammograms, then difficult to know how often that should be done or when to start. I would think 30-35 would be reasonable and give you several years of screening prior to the onset of your relatives disease.
#4 might want to consider genetics consultation to assess your overall risk of breast cancer and also they can help recommend screening strategies.
#5 need to have regular breast exams by medical provider and monthly breast self exams are also very important.
Good luck and hopefully this will provide some basic guidance.
Helen Rhodes MDwww.drhelenrhodes.com
That is a great question! Because of your family history, you will need to start mammograms earlier than the general population. It is recommended when you have a first-degree relative with breast cancer (i.e. Mother or sister), you should start mammograms 10 years earlier than when they were diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed at 42 years old, you will need a baseline mammogram at 32 years old. Also, you should inquire if your mother and/or grandmother had BRCA 1/2 gene mutation testing.
I hope this answers your question!