American Cancer Society Dials Back the Number of Mammograms It Recommends

Illustration for article titled American Cancer Society Dials Back the Number of Mammograms It Recommends

The American Cancer Society has revamped its guidelines on mammograms, recommending that patients start them later and do them less often.

They announced the shift in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The New York Times reports the influential organization now says that “women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years.” Plus for patients without red flags, they’re no longer backing the in-office exam where the doctor palpates your boob for a while. Previously, they said to start doing both annually at 40. Again, that’s for those with average chances, not for anybody high risk, and of course the idea is that medical providers take these guidelines into account in discussions with their patients, not for you to blithely skip routine doctor’s appointments.

Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to Kevin Oeffinger, who’s with Sloan-Kettering and headed up the panel that made the changes. He explained:

“After looking at literally hundreds of studies, we were convinced that mammography remains an essential tool, and it is still the single best tool for preventing a premature death in a woman with breast cancer,” Oeffinger said. “But most women will not have breast cancer. You can think of mammography as an insurance plan — something you hope you won’t need but you’re glad to have if you do.”


But of course the subject of how many mammograms and how soon is a hotly debated subject, as we’ve covered before. It seems unlikely the controversy will simply die down, because that is not how controversies about women’s healthcare works.

Contact the author at

Photo via AP Images.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


When I was 25 my doctor at the time (woooo shoutout to PP!) found a lump in my breast during the palpitation that they were concerned about. It thankfully ended up being just a benign growth (’s not enough that I have to be fat in general. My body has decided it’s fun to fuck with me by placing some random small fatty deposits too just to freak me thanks for that) but it took a mammogram and biopsy before we could all breathe easy.

Mammograms SUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. Seriously, standing there scared out of your mind, topless, while standing on tippy toes so this machine can smush the everloving fuck out of your boob and take pictures...all while a tech you don’t know is walking about trying to push you even further into the machine is goddamn awful. I mean, it’s great what it’s actually able to do when there’s something they need to see but I am super glad this decision means that otherwise healthy women will be able to put off this craptastic experience a bit longer.