Doctor Visits

Mammograms: Questions for the Doctor

A woman smiling.

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast to check for breast cancer. Mammograms can help find breast cancer early, before it spreads to other parts of the body — and when it may be easier to treat.

The recommendations are: 

  • If you're age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them
  • If you're age 50 to 74, get mammograms every 2 years 

Like all medical tests, mammograms have benefits and risks. These benefits and risks depend on your age and your personal risk of breast cancer. Use the questions below to start a conversation with your doctor about mammograms.  

Together, you and your doctor can decide what’s best for you.

What about cost?

Insurance plans must cover mammograms for women age 50 and over — and some younger women at higher risk for breast cancer. That means you may be able to get mammograms at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance company to find out more.

What do I ask the doctor?

When you visit the doctor, it helps to have questions written down ahead of time. You may also want to ask a family member or close friend to go with you to take notes. 

Print this list of questions and take it with you to your next appointment.

  • Do I have any risk factors that increase my chances of getting breast cancer?
  • When should I start getting regular mammograms?  
  • How often should I get mammograms? 
  • What will happen when I go to get mammograms?
  • How long will it take to get the results of my mammograms?
  • If I don’t hear back about the results of my mammograms, does that mean everything's okay?
  • What are the benefits and risks of getting mammograms? What does this mean for me?
  • Is there anything I can do to lower my risk of breast cancer?

Content last updated July 21, 2022

Reviewer Information

This information on breast cancer was adapted from materials from the National Cancer Institute and the Office on Women’s Health.

Reviewed by:
Rebecca Chasan, Ph.D.
Chief, Science Writing and Review Branch
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health

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