At what age should a woman whose mother has had breast cancer start screening mammography? — Rebecca Adamson

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends screening mammography for women 40 years and older every 1 to 2 years. A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, and/or daughter was given a diagnosis of breast cancer, especially if they were younger than 50 years at diagnosis. Having a close male blood relative with breast cancer also increases a woman’s risk of developing the disease. The woman in your question should start routine screening mammography based on her family history. If her mother was given a diagnosis before age 50 years, recommendations are to start screening 10 years prior to her mother’s age at diagnosis. Otherwise the recommended screening would be followed, which is yearly at age 40 years. — K. Lynne Quinn, RN, MSN, CRNP, AOCNP

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