Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Should Some Women Younger Than Age 30 Undergo Mammography?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019

Women between the ages of 30 and 39 may benefit from beginning mammography screening at age 30 if they have 3 specific risk factors (dense breasts, a personal history of breast cancer, or a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative), rather than waiting until age 40 to begin screening. Cindy S. Lee, MD, of NYU Langone Health in New York, and her colleagues presented these data, based on a large-scale study of more than 5 million mammograms, at the 2018 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting (Abstract SSM02-02).

“Women under 40 have not been the focus of our attention when it comes to breast cancer screening,” said Dr. Lee in an RSNA press release . “Some of these young women have increased risk for breast cancer and may need earlier and/or supplemental screening.”

Data from the National Mammography Database provided information about more than 5.7 million screening mammograms in 2.6 million women from 2008 to 2015. The overall rate of cancer detection was 3.7 per 1,000, with a recall rate of 9.8%. The total positive predictive values for recommended biopsy and performed biopsy were 20.1% and 28.2%, respectively.

Women aged 30 to 34 and 35 to 39 had similar detection rates, recall rates, and positive predictive values. However, those with dense breasts, a personal history of breast cancer, or a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative had significantly higher detection rates. Additionally, women aged 30 to 39 with these 3 risk factors had similar cancer detection and recall rates when compared with women between the ages of 40 and 44 who had no known risk, the current recommended screening population.

Disclosure: Study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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