Women should evaluate their breast cancer risk by age 30, according to the American College of Radiology.
This is particularly important for black women and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, as they are at greater risk compared to other women in the general population. Women at greater risk for developing breast cancer need to be considered for earlier and/or more intensive screening regimens.
Existing recommendations for women at high risk — i.e. those with a strong family history of breast cancer or a known gene mutation associated with breast cancer — include yearly screening mammography starting at age 30, with annual breast screening MRIs by ages 25-30. Women previously treated with chest radiation therapy before age 30 should start screening mammography at either age 25 or eight years after radiation treatment, whichever is later, as well as undergo supplemental screening with yearly breast MRIs.
For women previously diagnosed with breast cancer and have dense breasts on mammography, or diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50, annual breast MRIs are recommended in addition to annual screening mammography. Breast MRIs can be considered for those with history of breast cancer and those with precancerous cells at biopsy, especially if other risk factors are present. Ultrasound can be considered for women who qualify for but cannot undergo MRIs.
Early detection decreases breast cancer mortality, so it is important to identify women at increased risk who can benefit from the supplemental screening available.
ACR recommends that women of average risk start annual screening mammography at age 40, as 75 percent of breast cancers occur in women of average risk. The biggest risk factors for breast cancer are being female and increased patient age.
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