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Breast Cancer Screening

What it is

Breast cancer begins in the tissues of the breast.

A special x-ray called a mammogram can find breast cancer. Medicare covers both screening and digital mammograms.

Why the screening is important

Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Every woman is at risk, and this risk increases with age. Men can get it, too.

The good news is that breast cancer can usually be treated successfully when found early. Medicare covers screening that can find breast cancer before you or a doctor may be able to feel it. Because risk increases with age, it is important to continue with screening, even if you were screened before you entered Medicare.

Who is covered

Women age 40 or older are covered for this screening. Medicare also covers a baseline mammogram for women with Medicare between ages 35 and 39.

How often it is covered

The screening is generally covered once every 12 months. Ask your doctor how to get this screening.

What you pay

You pay nothing for cost of this service if you have Original Medicare and you see a doctor who “accepts assignment.” Doctors who accept assignment agree to accept the amount that Medicare will pay for a visit or service (called the Medicare-approved amount) as payment in full.

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan cannot charge you for this service as long as you see an “in-network” provider, meaning a doctor who has an agreement to treat people who belong to the plan. If you use a provider outside your plan's network, it may cost you money.

Learn more about Breast Cancer Screening on Medicare.gov.

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