Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend women get mammograms every year starting at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises women to get mammograms every other year starting at 50.
2. Know your family history
Screening recommendations are different for certain groups, such as women with a family history of breast cancer and women who've tested positive for breast cancer genes. See the links above for recommendations.
3. Find out about other screening tools besides mammograms
Ultrasounds, MRIs, breast self-exams and exams performed by your doctor can all be used in addition to mammograms. See the links above.
4. Keep in mind that mammograms miss many cancers
Don't have a false sense of security just because you've had a mammogram. Mammograms miss about one in five breast cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
5. Realize mammograms catch some cancers that might not ever make you sick
This study found that 31% of newly diagnosed breast cancers never would have caused any harm; other studies say it's more like 10% to 20%.
Whatever the real percentage is, when you go in for a mammogram, realize that it might pick up a harmless tumor, but you're going to have to get treatment for it anyway since doctors can't yet discern a harmful from a harmless cancer.
"You should go into this with your eyes open," says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society and CNN cancer expert.