Screening for Breast Cancer

Summary of recommendations for clinicians and policy-makers

Recommendations are presented for the use of mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, breast self exam and clinical breast exam to screen for breast cancer. These recommendations apply only to women at average risk of breast cancer aged 40 to 74 years. They do not apply to women at higher risk due to personal history of breast cancer, history of breast cancer in first degree relative, known BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation, or prior chest wall radiation. No recommendations are made for women aged 75 and older, given the lack of data.

The Task Force will continue to carefully monitor the scientific development in breast cancer screening and report back to Canadians within 5 years with an update of the 2011 Breast Cancer Screening guideline.

Mammography

  • For women aged 40–49 we recommend not routinely screening with mammography. (Weak recommendation; moderate quality evidence)
  • For women aged 50–69 years we recommend routinely screening with mammography every 2 to 3 years. (Weak recommendation; moderate quality evidence)
  • For women aged 70–74 we recommend routinely screening with mammography every 2 to 3 years. (Weak recommendation; low quality evidence)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

  • We recommend not routinely screening with magnetic resonance imaging. (Weak recommendation; no evidence)

Clinical Breast Exam

  • We recommend not routinely performing clinical breast exam alone or in conjunction with mammography to screen for breast cancer. (Weak recommendation; low quality evidence)

Breast Self Exam

  • We recommend not advising women to routinely practice breast self exam. (Weak recommendation; moderate quality evidence)

Here are a list of locations and contact information for breast cancer screening facilities in Alberta and breast cancer screening facilities by Province (Canadian Cancer Society).

This Clinical Practice Guideline has been endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

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