Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, and it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Each year, it is estimated that more than 220,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die. Statistics indicate that one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. The impact of this disease is undeniable, which is why each year, the U.S. recognizes October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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Early detection tests for breast cancer help save thousands of lives each year, and many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these of annual screenings.

These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer. Women with a personal history of breast cancer, a family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as BRCA), and women who had radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30 are at higher risk for breast cancer, not average-risk.

Women ages 40 to 44 – Recommended starting annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The risks of screening as well as the potential benefits should be considered.

Women age 45 to 54 – Recommended getting mammograms every year.

Women age 55 and older – Recommended to get to mammograms every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms associated with breast cancer screening. They should also be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.

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