OB-GYN (Obstetrician-Gynecologist) Questions Mammogram

What's the earliest I can get a mammogram?

I'm 25. Both my mother and grandmother had breast cancer (both caught early in their 40s and they are both in remission). When can I start getting checked and how often? Is there such a thing as too early?

23 Answers

Good you asked. Depending on where you live, there may be a breast surgeon who has a high risk breast clinic for people like you with a history of breast cnacer. Do your research. Your mom and grandmother should have been offered genetic testing to see if they carry either a BRACA genetic abnormality that could increase the risk of breast cancer or other gene disorder. If they are + for the gene, you would require testing as well.
First see if there is a high risk breast center where you live
If breast exam is normal, age 35 is early, you should go for a mammogram.
Consider getting tested for the BRCA gene, or maybe your mother can get tested and then if she is positive you should seek genetic counseling. You can get a baseline mammo at 35, but consider annual breast exams, and annual breast ultrasounds as well as possibly thermograms at any age. There is no study to show that exposing your breasts to digital radiation year after year increases your risks of cancer, but more and more women are worried about this issue. Look into checking your hormones, and how you metabolize your estrogen.
It is recommended to start mammograms 10 years before the cancer diagnosis of your family member. Because of your family history of early breast cancer, I would recommend genetic testing unless your mom was negative. It is harder to interpret mammograms on younger women because of the increased breast density. I would recommend every 2 years in your 30's unless something is felt.
You should talk to your doctor in more detail. Also you need to find out if your mother and grandmother had genetic testing done. The earliest time to start screening would be at age 30 or sometimes 10 years earlier than the earliest person that had cancer and there are several variables that may come in the play so there needs to be further discussion with your doctor regarding the types of screening as well as the genetic testing options that are now available as they are more commonly covered under insurance.
You are in the age of checking, because of the history of mother and grandmother having the breast cancer. Mammography will be advised by the Doctor after checking your breasts.
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.
You should start at age 30 or 5 years before the younger one had the diagnosis made. You should also be genetically tested for the BRCA genes and have breast MRI along with routine exams and mammography. It is difficult to read mammograms in women with dense breast tissue and, the younger you are, the denser your breast tissue is likely to be. Therefore, mammography is more difficult to interpret in younger women.
Dr. Karen Weiss
The most important question to answer at this point is if there a genetic disorder for breast, ovarian cancer and even other cancers in the family. So you need to see your doctor to discuss this in detail. The breast cancer screening tests that you will need will depend on whether you have a genetic mutation or not.
Thank you.
Routine mammogram screening for low risk patients starts at age 40.
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.
Tough question. No easy answers. Several thoughts however.

#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.
You should start getting your mammograms 10 years earlier than the youngest person who was diagnosed with breast cancer in your family. This should be a yearly exam.
If your mother had breast cancer, she is considered to be a first degree relative. The usual recommendation is for you to have a mammogram 10 years before the age your first degree relative was diagnosed. That would mean sometime in your early 30's. since your mother and grandmother had breast cancer you should consider genetic testing for a BRCA mutation. Of course if you notice a lump or mass, breast skin puckering or dimpling, you should seek care at once
For patients with a family history of breast cancer, it is recommended that the initial mammogram be performed 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of youngest relative with the disease. For example, if your mother developed breast cancer at age 40, your first mammogram would be recommended at age 30.
Helen Rhodes MDwww.drhelenrhodes.com
Prior to age 30 to 35 the breasts are too dense to detect early signs of cancer by mammogram, however a yearly breast exam by a doctor is a good idea, along with self breast exams every few months starting now, in addition to a baseline mammogram at 30 with mammograms to follow until 40 at which point I would alternate a mammogram with an MRI every six months based on your risk.
I recommend discussing having a baseline mammogram completed at age 35. Also, I recommend annual well woman exams/physicals with your physician/provider. Please complete regular self breast exams so that you are familiar with your own breast tissue thus enabling you to identify earlier when something feels abnormal.

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!

Dr. Gillispie
Typically we start screening women 10 years before the diagnosis of your closest relative with breast cancer. So if your mom was diagnosed at the age of 40 you would start testing with mammograms and MRIs at 30 years old. Anytime before then we can still do a mammogram for clinical indications such as new onset of a breast lump. I would make sure you mention your history when you go for your annual GYN exam and consider BRCA testing if your mother has not done so.
I won't answer that question, but I will recommend that you do your Monthly BSE EVERY month (> 5 days post last menstrual day <) Breast Self Exam and if you are post menopause, do your BSE EVERY month on your birth date.


Would recommend starting mammograms in your early thirties. You should also consider genetic testing for breast cancer.
First get genetic counseling. Mammograms should start 10 years younger than the youngest relatives cancer. MRI is likely to be recommended by the radiologist. Mammograms in women under 50 and certainly under 40 are subject to false positives and therefore likely to cause more interventions and anxiety than the benefit of finding an early cancer. The genetic question is key and then the risk-benefit question is a matter of thorough informed consent.
you will want to start with mammograms screenings 10 years before the age when your family member got the breast cancer diagnosis. If there are no family members with breast cancer. then you start at 40 with the screening
Age 35