Every major American medical organization with expertise in breast cancer care, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and Society of Breast Imaging recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40.

Mammography Lifesaving Benefit

According to National Cancer Institute data, since mammography screening became widespread in the early 1990s, the US breast cancer death rate, unchanged for the previous 50 years, has dropped well over 30 percent. By not getting a yearly mammogram after age 40, women increase their odds of dying from breast cancer and that treatment for any advanced cancers ultimately found will be more extensive and more expensive.

    The largest (Hellquist et al) and longest running (Tabar et al) breast cancer screening studies in history, re-confirmed that regular mammography screening cut breast cancer deaths by roughly a third in all women ages 40 and over (including women ages 40-49).

    A recent study (Otto et al) published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention shows mammography screening cuts the risk of dying from breast cancer nearly in half.

    A recent study published in Cancer showed that more than 70 percent of the women who died from breast cancer in their 40s at major Harvard teaching hospitals were among the 20 percent of women who were not being screened. The most rigorous scientific studies have shown that the most lives are saved by screening beginning at age 40.

    Recent case control studies have shown that the death rate from breast cancer was lower among women screened compared to those not screened. Women who were diagnosed with breast cancer were treated in the same way, whether screened or not screened. Therefore, the lower death rate among screened women is due to screening, and cannot be attributed to treatment differences. 

    While screening can find cancers that might never go on to become clinically evident or have the potential to be lethal (over diagnosis), best estimates show this modest and probably less than 10 percent. 

    The goal of screening is to detect breast cancer early enough so that women’s life is saved- a priceless benefit. Nevertheless, mammography has also been shown to be cost-effective compared to the other screening studies used in medicine. 

    Mammography can detect cancer early when it’s most treatable and can be treated less invasively - which not only save lives, but helps preserve quality of life. For more information regarding the proven effectiveness of regular mammography screening at reducing breast cancer deaths, please visit