Clearing up screening confusion

New breast cancer screening guidelines suggest some women should receive MRIs.

Just last week, the American Cancer Society announced its recommendation that women who are at high risk of breast cancer be screened with magnetic resonance imaging tests. This has caused a lot of confusion among women regarding what qualifies as “high risk” status. The best way for one to determine the most appropriate breast cancer screening method is to talk with a doctor or medical professional, but there are some stand-true guidelines to follow in between annual exams.

The new MRI testing recommendation is meant for women who are at high risk. The high-risk group includes women who have a strong family history of breast cancer or genetic mutations.

Doctors aren’t recommending the MRI for all patients because, although the MRI can get a more detailed picture of tissues than a traditional mammogram can, it also uncovers more false alarms. MRIs also cost around $1,000.

Women should receive their first mammogram soon before they reach the age of 40 years. Then a woman should be seeing her doctor every one to two years to get the procedure.

Once a woman turns 50, mammograms are recommended each year.

Women between the ages of 20 and 40 should have regular clinical breast examinations each year. These women should also give themselves a self-exam every month. This allows the woman a chance to get to know her body and to be better able to find changes in it.

Women who are younger can also be in the high-risk category. For these women, an MRI test will screen more accurately because the breast is denser.

Women should talk with their doctor about which screening method is right for them. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, more than 200,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. Early diagnosis is key in successful treatment.