Investigator recommends screening mammogram during first week of menstrual cycle

November 30, 2015

Miglioretti notes, however, that the increased sensitivity was only for women with a screen in the past two years, who were assumed to be having regular screens, and not for women being screened for the first time. Miglioretti says this result was "surprising," but offers some possible reasons. In general, when first screens find a tumor, it's relatively large. Low breast density is more important for detecting small tumors, so the menstrual cycle influence might not have been seen for first screens. "Larger tumors may be easier to see later in the menstrual cycle, but this needs to be studied," says Miglioretti. In addition, her findings do not apply to diagnostic mammography: mammography performed to work up a symptom such as a breast lump. If a woman finds a breast lump or has another breast concern, she should contact her doctor right away.

Dr. Miglioretti and her co-authors know that women can't always predict their cycle, but say if they can, scheduling during the first week may have an additional advantage. Many women experience breast tenderness in the second half of their cycle, so avoiding this time could reduce mammography discomfort.

Current recommendations are that women aged 50-74 have a routine screening mammogram every other year. Women are encouraged to consult with their health care providers to find a mammography schedule that fits their family history and personal preferences.

Source: Group Health Research Institute