Depicts a group of women nearing the end of a breast cancer awareness run

Mammography Saves Lives

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Breast Cancer Risk by Age 25

More women under 40 are getting breast cancer.

As cancers in young women are often more deadly, current American College of Radiology® guidelines  urge all women — especially Black and Jewish women, who are at higher risk — to talk with their doctor about their individual breast cancer risk by age 25.


The American College of Radiology® recommends you ask your doctor:

  • If you should get a mammogram before age 40.
  • If you need other tests – like an MRI – with your yearly mammogram.
  • Or – if you are at high risk – should be checked more than once a year.

Depicts a young women receiving healthcare with a nurse.


The following resources can help with these discussions:  

Depicts a young women consulting with her doctor.

Why Are Annual Mammograms Important?


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A mammogram is a noninvasive X-ray used to check breasts for breast cancer and other abnormalities. It is the only test shown to reduce breast cancer deaths. Mammograms can detect cancer early — when most treatable — long before it can be felt. This improves odds of survival and can help avoid more extensive treatment.

Understand your breast cancer risk »

Get the facts about false positives »

Why Start at 40?

  • One in six breast cancers occurs in women in their 40s.
  • Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990.
  • One study shows mammography screening cuts the risk of dying from breast cancer nearly in half.
  • Three out of four women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and are not considered high risk.

Survivor Story

Diagnosed at 45, Robin urges women to start annual mammograms at age 40.

Mammography Misconceptions and Myths


Balancing Benefits and Risks

Screening in Underserved Communities


Breast Cancer Overdiagnosis

     Watch more videos     

Preparing for Your Mammogram

Mammography Guidelines

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. The American Cancer Society (ACS), U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), ACR and SBI agree that this approach saves the most lives.

By not getting annual mammograms starting at age 40, you increase your chances of dying from breast cancer and the likelihood that you will experience more extensive treatment for any cancers found.

We include the guidelines below to make you aware of the options and help you make informed decisions.

Notes on USPSTF Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations:

  • Published analysis shows that following these USPSTF guidelines would miss approximately a third of cancers and result in 6,500–10,000 additional breast cancer deaths each year.
  • The federal government has barred Medicare and private insurance companies from basing mammography coverage on these USPSTF recommendations.
  • These USPSTF recommendations have been scientifically rejected by every major medical organization with demonstrated expertise in breast cancer care.


Significant scientific evidence supports recommendations to start annual mammograms at age 40. This approach saves more lives than delayed or less frequent screening. We hope that you find this information useful.

  • According to National Cancer Institute data, since mammography screening became widespread in the 1980s, the U.S. breast cancer death rate, unchanged for the previous 50 years, has dropped nearly 40 percent.
  • Perhaps the largest (Hellquist et al) and longest running (Tabar et al) breast cancer screening studies in history, reconfirmed that regular screening cut breast cancer deaths by roughly a third in all women ages 40 and over (including women ages 40-49).
  • A study in Cancer showed that more than 70 percent of women who died from breast cancer in their forties at major Harvard teaching hospitals were among the 20 percent of women not being screened.

Start @ 40

Reduction in Breast Cancer Mortality from Organized Service Screening with Mammography: Further Confirmation with Extended Data.

The Mammographic Screening Trials: Commentary on the Recent Work by Olsen and Goetzsche.

Breast Cancer: Computer Simulation Method for Estimating Optimal Intervals for Screening.

Mammography Harms

JAMA — Consequences of False-Positive Screening Mammograms – Anxiety from false-positives is short-term with no lasting effects.

JAMA — Enthusiasm for Cancer Screening in the United States – Nearly all women who have a false-positive exam still endorse regular screening and want to know their status.

The Oncologist — Arguments Against Mammography Screening Continue to be Based on Faulty Science

Concerns Related to Commonly Reported Studies

US Preventive Services Task Force Guidelines Are Not Supported by the Scientific Evidence and Should Be Rescinded.

Informed decision making: age 50 is arbitrary and has no demonstrated influence on breast cancer screening in women.

Bias in the Medical Journals: A Commentary.

Canadian National Breast Screening Study: Assessment of Technical Quality by External Review.

Resources for Radiologists

"Return to Care" Toolkit

Comprehensive Information