Breast cancer screening is one of the most important tools in medicine for women. A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and is used to look for any signs of cancer depending on the patient’s risk factors.

All women need to be informed by their healthcare provider about the best available screening options for breast cancer. Although screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help detect it early, and that is when it is easier to treat.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening mammograms for women aged 50-74. If they are found to be at average risk for breast cancer, they should be done once every two years. Having family members with breast cancer can lead to a higher risk, and screening can be done as early as age 40.

If the mammogram is not available or is contraindicated, a breast MRI can be done which is also an excellent choice for screening for breast cancer. Only a physician or trained nurse can provide a screening for a clinical breast exam.

One of the reasons the clinical breast examination is not the first choice recommended is because there is a higher risk of false positive results, which in turn leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

A mammogram or breast MRI would both be the best clinical tools for conducting a screening.

Breast cancer screening can be stopped after the age of 75. However, screening can be done for ages 75-85 depending on certain risk factors, clinical signs and symptoms.

Always discuss with your medical provider to see if you are age-appropriate for screening, and to look for what possible options are available for breast cancer screening.

Anyone who would like to ask me a medical question relating to the health of older adults can email me at I hope to provide a helpful answer in a future issue of this newspaper.

Disclaimer: The information shared in this column is based on current practice guidelines but should not act as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

Dr. Arvindselvan Mohanaselvan, M.D., is a physician board-certified in internal medicine, with a subspecialty in geriatrics. He currently works at Apex Medical Group as a primary care and geriatric medicine provider. Email questions for Paging the Doctor on Call to

Arvind M. Selvan M.D.