Are you a woman who hasn’t yet begun to get a mammogram?

Women should begin getting annual mammographies at age 40. That’s according to Deborah Monticello, a Professor of Radiology at Texas A&M University and President of the Society of Breast Imaging.

Professor Monticello believes that many women are uncertain about when they should begin having the tests because of confusing reports in the media.

Monticello recommends that patients who are at very high risk, based on their family background or other risk factors and patients who have a family history of breast cancer ought to have an assessment of their risk. And, if these women are found to have a high risk, Monticello said they should begin getting regular mammograms at around age 30.

Make no mistake, Monticello said, it’s a proven life-saver. Monticello said mammography decreases mortality risk by 30 to 45 percent in populations where it’s actually used.

And while newer, digital mammogram are more effective in finding aggressive breast cancer, Monticello said any mammogram is better than none. She said certainly all of the studies that have shown a benefit of mammography have in decreasing breast cancer mortality have been done primarily with film screen mammography, so it’s an excellent technique.

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