Ask an Expert: When should I have my first mammogram?

By Janet Kramer-Mai, RN, OCN, CBPN-IC
Posted on July 1, 2015

Q: When should I have my first mammogram? I’m 36 years old without a family history of breast cancer.

A: All women, regardless of family history, should have a baseline mammogram between age 35 and 40 and annual mammograms after 40. Over 85 percent of women with breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease, so it’s important for every woman over 40 to get screened every year.

The latest technologies for breast screenings — digital mammography, 3-D mammography, and ultrasound imaging — are available at the Center for Breast Health at Erlanger East. Specialists in breast disease provide thorough evaluations of breast abnormalities, develop individual screening plans, and treat both benign breast problems and breast cancer. In the event of a breast cancer diagnosis, our Breast Cancer Navigator can help guide women through the process of treatment options.

Radiologists at the Erlanger Center for Breast Health focus exclusively on comprehensive breast imaging. These specialists are solely dedicated, 100 percent of the time, to interpreting breast imaging studies such as ultrasound images, digital mammograms, and breast images from multiple angles through 3-D mammograms.

Women with a family history of breast cancer may also opt for genetic counseling and genetic testing with a board-certified geneticist and a genetic counselor to help better understand cancer risk and treatment options.

Whether you’re scheduling a breast cancer screening, seeking advice on cancer prevention or living with a cancer diagnosis, the Center for Breast Health offers complete services for breast health at one convenient location.

Janet Kramer-Mai, RN, OCN, CBPN-IC, is a Breast Cancer Navigator and Erlanger Center for Breast Health Manager at Erlanger East Hospital. For more information or to make an appointment with one of our specialists, call 423-778-2564 or visit

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