How many years for mammos?

The utility and necessity of mammography has never come into question for women starting in and around the age of 50. Women have become quite accustomed to mammograms becoming a regular part of their lives starting anywhere between the ages of 40 and 50. The question that is now being asked: how long do mammograms need to remain as a part of women’s lives?

As life expectancy continues to increase, the medical community is beginning to ask the question – when do we stop recommending regular mammograms, if ever. There has been quite a bit of discourse and research in the area and no consensus seems to have been reached as of yet. One approach that has gained traction with the cancer society is a simple guideline: “Women should continue mammograms as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of at least 10 more years.” (http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/when+stop+mammograms+tricky+issue+ages/11657785/story.html)

The question as to why there would ever be an endpoint is related to the benefits and drawbacks of searching for a diagnosis that can entail a rigorous treatment that may require a certain level of general health in the first place. The benefits of continued screening needs to be weighed against the drawbacks associated with “false alarms, unneeded biopsies and detection of a tumour so small or slow-growing that it never would have posed a threat.” (http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/when+stop+mammograms+tricky+issue+ages/11657785/story.html)

Although no clear answer to this question has emerged, it is important that the issue continue to be explored so that clearer parameters can be agreed upon for a greying population.

Generally, mammograms should be performed every two years for the best chances of breast cancer detection. Although most commonly associated with breast cancer detection, mammograms can detect other deformities or problems within the breast. Ultrasounds are used after mammograms to delve further into the findings of the initial examination and to determine the type of procedure required for the abnormality.

At the Queen Elizabeth Health Complex the cost of a mammogram is covered by the RAMQ. For more information or to make an appointment please call us at 514-485-5115 and we will gladly answer any questions or work with you to find the most convenient time in your day to schedule an appointment. We are open Monday to Friday between 8:30 AM 7:30 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.