Aside from the general recommendations for women to get regular mammograms once they reach a certain age, there are some specific risk factors and personal circumstances that may warrant earlier or more frequent screening.
Some women may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to certain factors, such as family history, genetics (BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations), previous chest radiation therapy, dense breast tissue, and hormonal influences. These women may be advised to start getting mammograms at an earlier age or to have them more frequently, such as every year instead of every two years. You can learn here more about who should consider getting a mammogram.
1. Family history of breast cancer
If you have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is greatly increased. Women with multiple family members who have had breast cancer may also be at a higher risk.
2. BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations
These inherited gene mutations increase the risk of developing breast cancer and are present in about 5-10% of all cases. Women with these mutations are often advised to start screening earlier and more frequently.
3. Previous chest radiation therapy
Women who receive radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30, whether for cancer or another medical condition, have a higher risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
4. Dense breast tissue
Dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect abnormalities on a mammogram. This may require more frequent screenings or additional imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI.
5. Hormonal influences
In addition to other factors, there are some personal circumstances that may also warrant earlier or more frequent mammograms. For example, women who started menstruating at an early age (before 12) or have a late menopause (after 55) may be at a higher risk for breast cancer due to longer exposure to estrogen.
6. Personal history of breast cancer
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, you may need to have more frequent mammograms to monitor for any recurrence or new tumors.
7. Previous benign breast biopsy
Women who have had a previous biopsy that showed non-cancerous changes in breast tissue may be advised to start screening earlier or have them more frequently.
8. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Some studies have shown that long-term use of HRT, especially estrogen and progesterone combined, may increase the risk of breast cancer.