Sarah Cannon recommends an annual mammogram screening for women ages 40 and over with an average risk of developing breast cancer. Sarah Cannon also encourages women to engage their physicians regularly starting as early as age 25 about their individualized risk for breast cancer, as higher risk women may benefit from genetic counseling or early screening. Understanding a woman’s family history, personal health history and individualized risk can help ensure that she is offered the most appropriate breast health screening.

There are varying recommendations on mammogram screening guidelines. Sarah Cannon’s recommendations center around the goal of catching cancers as early as possible, when less treatment is necessary for a better outcome. We also emphasize the importance of conducting screenings using digital mammography which produces clearer images, resulting in fewer false positives and unnecessary biopsies than film mammography.

Clinical Exams

Sarah Cannon recommends that women ages 20 and older be familiar with their breasts and to consult their physician if they notice any changes. Women ages 20-40 should schedule a clinical breast exam with their physician every three years. Clinical breast exams are typically done at an annual gynecology exam. A clinical breast examination is simply a physical examination of the breasts performed by a health professional. The physician will examine each breast, underarm and collarbone area for changes in breast size, skin changes or signs of injury or infection, such as bruising or redness. The physician will also ​​palpate each breast for any unusual painful areas or lumps.

These exams, along with mammograms, are used to help catch breast cancer as early as possible. 

  • Learn about what to expect during and after your mammogram on our blog here
  • For more information on a proactive approach to breast cancer detection, read our breast cancer fact sheet here.  
  • Learn more about the different breast cancer diagnostic tests here.