What is a baseline screening mammogram? The answer is simple. it’s a woman’s first mammogram.

The question regarding age is often posed to medical providers and also the frequent subject of medical provider commentary or published studies and papers. The general consensus is that in general, regular mammograms are not recommended for women who are at average risk for breast cancer if they are under 40 years old, in part, because breast tissue tends to be more dense in young women, making mammograms less effective as a screening tool.

Possible exceptions?

For women who may be considered at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, due to a number of different factors, screening mammograms prior to age 40 may be considered appropriate, if not vital, to their overall health and wellness. According to the Cleveland Clinic, factors may include:

  • A personal history of breast cancer.
  • Abnormal cells found via breast biopsy.
  • A family history of breast cancer, particularly in a first-line relative such as mother, daughter or sister.
  • A family history that is concerning for a genetic syndrome (such as the presence of breast and ovarian cancer in the same side of the family).
  • Treatment with radiation to the chest or breast as a child or teenager.
  • Carrying a high risk gene (such as the RCA1/BRCA2 mutation): Women who carry defects on either of these genes are at greater risk for developing breast cancer.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
  • High risk as identified by breast cancer risk assessment models (eg Tyrer-Cuzick).

For higher-risk women, screening mammograms, breast ultrasound or even a screening breast MRI may be recommended by their medical provider. While breast cancer cannot currently be prevented, early detection saves lives and the earlier the discovery and diagnosis, the much higher probability of a positive healthy outcome.

If your physician, nurse practitioner or physicians assistant recommends breast cancer screening for you and you are under the age of 40, we hope that you will choose the only independent radiology practice in southeast Louisiana offering mammography and other women’s health testing. This includes 3D mammography, touted as a superior screening technique compared to traditional mammograms.

3D mammography is especially important in young or younger women due to breast tissue being generally denser than the breast tissue in older women. 3D imaging provides a much more complete picture of the breasts which is critical for the radiologist in reviewing and analyzing dense tissue.

Diagnostic Imaging Services has performed 3D mammography for several years and now offers this screening service in four centers covering both sides of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River for further convenience.

Click here to learn more about women’s health imaging offered at DIS.