How old is too old for a mammogram?
At what age should you stop having a mammogram? — Angie's List member Elsy Maciak
Controversy remains regarding when women should start mammography screening, at what interval to screen and when to stop, says Dr. Pamela Otto, director of the breast imaging center at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
"The guidelines we use are those of the American Cancer Society that recommend annual screening starting at age 40," Otto says. "As for when to stop, we recommend continuing screening mammography as long as one is fairly healthy."
By fairly healthy, she says a woman should not have significant health problems that would already impact her life expectancy greater than a diagnosis of breast cancer.
The mammography controversy erupted in 2009 when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new guidelines that recommended mammograms every two years for women aged 50 to 74.
The American Cancer Society, however, responded that its experts reviewed the same clinical data available to the USPSTF and still recommend annual screenings for women starting at age 40. Under the Affordable Care Act, the mammograms are considered a preventative service and fully covered by that point.
The bottom line is if you're 70, 80 or even 90 years old and you expect to live at least four more years, get screened, Otto advises.