M At The Doctor

Mammography: From what age?

In France, so-called "organized" screening is offered to all women aged 50 to 74 years. Every woman receives a mail at home inviting her to perform a mammogram. It is recommended to perform a mammogram every two years: these screenings are free, fully covered by the Health Insurance. From the age of 50, every woman receives a letter from her home inviting her to perform the exam at an approved radiology center. Performing a mammogram with this organized screening is surely the preferred solution, because if a first radiologist does not detect anything in the X-ray analysis, a check by a second radiologist is done. In addition, X-ray equipment used for organized screening must meet strict quality criteria.

In addition to this organized screening, women carry out this screening on an individual basis, and sometimes before the age of 50. Note that the vast majority of experts consider it unnecessary to perform this mammography systematically before age 50. Indeed, at age 40, the breasts are still very dense and very opaque on radiography, and the results are therefore less reliable. Visibility is less.

Before the age of 30, specialists consider that mammography gives only few visible results. In addition, performed on a woman too young, the examination can be dangerous. It is not advisable to irradiate a breast too young, still in full development. That said, these real risks are not proven.

At what age in families at risk?

A high-risk person is a woman with one or more very close relatives (mother, sister) who have developed breast cancer. In fact it depends more precisely on the size of the family, the age of onset of cancer (before age 50 or later), and the number of breast or ovarian cancers that occurred in the family.

Based on these data, an oncogenetic consultation may be advised by the physician, and possibly a blood test for predisposing genes and monitoring by repeated mammograms may be prescribed.

Caution: Mammography does not detect all pathological conditions. Pre-cancerous lesions are only detectable from a certain size. It can also happen, very rarely, that cancers that evolve unfortunately quickly develop between two control mammograms (we speak of cancer interval).

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