To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) is underscoring the significance of early breast cancer detection and emphasizing its guidelines aimed at promoting regular screening mammograms for average-risk women.

Breast cancer, the most common cancer in women (excluding skin cancer), remains a critical concern. However, advancements in early detection and treatment have contributed to a 43% reduction in breast cancer mortality rates since 1989.

Robert Smith, senior vice president of early cancer detection science for the American Cancer Society (ACS), states, “Breast cancer screening with mammography is important because early detection saves lives. Research has shown regular mammograms are associated with a substantially reduced risk of dying from breast cancer.”

The ACS provides evidence-based guidelines that advise average-risk women to consider annual screening mammograms starting at age 45. These guidelines also grant the option to begin screening as early as age 40. Women aged 45 to 54 should undergo annual mammograms, with the possibility of transitioning to biennial screening from age 55 onwards or continuing annual screening as preferred. All women should consult with their healthcare providers to determine the most appropriate screening regimen based on individual factors such as family history, genetics, and lifestyle choices.

Women at higher risk for breast cancer, based on specific factors, are recommended to undergo both breast MRI and mammogram screenings annually.

“Women who receive regular mammograms and are diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed earlier, less likely to need aggressive treatments, and more likely to be cured,” Smith says. “Committing to regular, on-time examinations is crucial, as consistent screening provides the greatest benefit.”