breast screening
breast screening
Recommendations for Breast Screening

Catawba Radiology stands firmly behind its recommendations of annual mammography starting at age 40, to ensure the maximum benefit from screening mammography. Our guidelines are in accordance with the American College of Radiology and Society for Breast Imaging. While both U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society have revised their screening mammography guidelines, their data still indicates that starting annual mammography at age 40 saves the most lives.


  • Catawba Radiology’s local data shows that nearly 20% of the cancers detected by a screening mammogram were in women ages 40-49, further supporting the start of screening mammograms at the age of 40

  • Additionally 40% of the life years lost to breast cancer are in women diagnosed in their 40’s

  • The years of life lost to breast cancer are highest for women in their 40’s

  • Breast cancer incidence increases substantially around age 40. The incidence rate for ages 40-44 is twice that for ages 35-39 (123 vs 60 per 100,000 women). For ages 45-49 it is 188.6 per 100,000 women; it continues to increase until age 80*

  • About 1 in 69 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their 40’s*

  • Annual screening mammography starting at age 40 reduces breast cancer mortality by 30%*

    * This information was found on, an initiative of the Society of Breast Imaging.

  • Annual mammograms can detect cancer early — when it is most treatable.

  • In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.

  • Mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and improve chances of breast conservation.

  • Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 1/3 since 1990.

  • Even for women 50+, skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers.

To learn more about how to prepare for a mammogram and what to expect during the exam, as well as the benefits, risks, and limitations, visit

Before you schedule your appointment:

  • Ask if the facility has digital mammography instead of the older screen-film technique. The difference is like that between a 1080p flat screen plasma TV and the old analog TV that most of us grew up watching.

  • 3D digital mammography (tomosynthesis) is the most state-of-the-art methodology for early detection of breast cancer and is highly recommended by our physicians. Ideally, you should schedule with a facility offering 3D. You will want to call your insurance provider prior to making the appointment to ensure it is covered by your policy.

  • Ask if you will be able to come back to the same facility if the radiologist requests additional images or if you have to go to a different facility for a “diagnostic mammogram”. Some locations only perform “screening mammograms”.

  • Ask if the facility has higher level imaging modalities such as Breast MRI and ask if they perform biopsies.

When you go:

  • If you are having your mammograms performed at a different location than your last mammogram, bring your old mammograms with you to your next appointment. Many facilities won’t do your mammogram until they have your old images for comparison.

  • Ask to see your mammogram.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask to see the radiologist to explain what he or she may be concerned about. You should know who is reading your mammogram.

  • Tell your technologist if you have had any trauma to the breast or if you have lost more than 10 pounds since your last mammogram.

  • Tell your technologist if you have started, stopped or changed hormones. Even vaginal creams can change what your mammogram looks like.

  • If you are having a diagnostic mammogram remember to always leave sufficient time for your mammogram as you might require additional images or even ultrasound. Waiting can cause some anxiety but remember the radiologist is actively reading your mammogram and those of the patients around you. You will leave the facility with an answer so make sure you bring a book, magazine, knitting, ipod, etc. to your visit.

  • There is no such thing as a perfect imaging study. Mammography, ultrasound and even MRI cannot pick up every single cancer, however by getting your mammogram every year you can help the radiologist in detecting small and early changes in the breast.

When it comes to breast cancer screening, women are bombarded with a myriad of mixed messages. Dr. Edward Pearce and Dr. Adrian Holtzman felt it was important they provide as many women as possible with their advice, based on experience in the field. You can read their advice in this article from the Hickory Daily Record. Read more here.



[staffer department=”breast”]