The mammogram is still the gold standard investigation for detecting early breast cancer and the only screening tool that has been shown to decrease the death rate from breast cancer. The mammogram is able to detect cancer before there is any palpable or visible change in the breast. Internationally, recommendations differ, however a generally accepted consensus is that all women should have an annual mammogram and clinical examination between the ages of 40-70 years. There are times when earlier surveillance will be recommended especially if you have a strong family history (mother/sister) of breast cancer detected before the age of 50 years. The ability of the mammogram to detect cancer will be optimised by having a mammogram done at a breast centre which specialises in mammography where the radiologists who read the mammograms have a dedicated specialist interest and training in breast imaging. Experience and expertise are required to give the best possible results. Mammograms are able to detect 80-90% of cancers and they are able to detect a form of early pre-invasive breast cancer. A clinical examination by a doctor would always be recommended at the time of your mammogram and this can be done by your GP.

This page was last updated at 11:58AM on November 25, 2019.