As medical advice is constantly updated, it can be hard to keep up with conflicting guidelines and misconceptions about breast screenings – particularly when to have them done. It’s difficult to really know what’s what.

The latest recommendations from the American Cancer Society suggest women should have mammograms beginning at age 45.

However, the American College of Radiology, and others still firmly believe what Novant Health has been recommending all along – breast screening for women should begin at age 40, possibly earlier for those at high risk.

Dr. Judith Hopkins of Novant Health Oncology Specialists in Kernersville, North Carolina, said their staff discusses new data at weekly group meetings and decides whether to support studies as a medical staff. Hopkins said Novant Health continues to recommend mammography, including 3-D breast tomosynthesis, beginning at age 40, as well as annual clinical breast exams.

The American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging also reaffirmed in a press release that they will continue to recommend yearly mammograms beginning at age 40.

“We will continue to follow the guidelines set by the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging,” said Dr. Nicole Abinanti of Mecklenburg Radiology Associates and director of women’s imaging at Novant Health Cancer Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Breast cancer is more easily treated with better outcomes when it’s found at an earlier age. Annual screening mammography has been shown to reduce deaths from breast cancer, and the most lives are saved when screenings begin at age 40.”

Dr. Carolyn Menendez , breast cancer surgeon and co-medical director of Novant Health’s cancer risk clinic in Charlotte, stressed that women should take their family history and other risk factors into consideration when determining appropriate breast screenings.

“Our patients need to understand their risk of developing breast cancer by having a conversation with their physician,” she said. “These guidelines are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and women should work with their physician to determine a plan that works best for them.”

To learn more about breast screenings offered by Novant Health, click here .