• Cancer

    Recommendations to begin breast cancer screening at age 40

An ultrasound technician positions a patient for a mammogram, a breast cancer screening tool
An ultrasound technician positions a patient for a mammogram

All women should begin breast cancer screening at the age of 40, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In a new recommendation, the task force advises cisgender women and all other people assigned female at birth aged 40 to 74 years get screened every other year.

"This is good news for women," says Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, with Mayo Clinic's Breast Diagnostic Clinic and Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We know that 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year. Our goal is to detect cancer early and improve the prognosis, so we reduce deaths from breast cancer."

She adds, “It is important to talk with your doctor about what age and frequency of mammogram screening is right for you. You may need additional imaging in conjunction with mammograms, based on your breast cancer risk."

Mayo Clinic has long recommended breast cancer screening begin at age 40.

Early detection and regular breast cancer screenings are key to reducing death from breast cancer. Mammograms remain the best tool available and have been shown to reduce deaths from breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening options

Traditional mammograms produce 2D images of the breast, while newer 3D mammograms, also called breast tomosynthesis, create 3D images. Many medical facilities now offer both for breast cancer screening.

3D mammograms help detect breast cancer and investigate issues like masses and pain. They're especially useful for women with dense breast tissue. These machines create both 3D and standard 2D images during screening, providing a more thorough assessment.

It's important you talk with your healthcare team about your risk for breast cancer and the benefits, risks and limitations of screening options. In addition, discuss all changes to your breasts you notice and ask about an appropriate screening schedule for you.