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The Basics: Overview
Breast cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will get breast cancer during her lifetime.
The good news is that mammograms can help find breast cancer early – before it spreads to other parts of the body. Most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET MAMMOGRAMS?
Women ages 40 to 49 Talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
Women ages 50 to 74 Get mammograms every 2 years. Talk with your doctor to decide if you need them more often.
WHAT IS A MAMMOGRAM?
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms use a very low level of x-rays, which are a type of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation is very low.
Mammograms can be used to screen (test) for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms. They can also help doctors figure out if cancer is causing a particular symptom – like a lump or another change in the breast.
When you get a mammogram, a technician will place your breast between 2 plastic plates and press it flat to get a clear picture. Getting a mammogram can be uncomfortable, but it doesn't last long.
It takes about 20 minutes to get mammograms. Learn more about mammograms.