Mammography use among women aged 18-39 years in the United States

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018 Apr;168(3):687-693. doi: 10.1007/s10549-017-4625-6. Epub 2017 Dec 20.


Purpose: Recommendations for breast cancer screening using mammography target asymptomatic women aged ≥ 40 years who are not at increased risk for breast cancer. Evidence is not available to demonstrate benefits of screening with mammography at younger ages, and little is known about mammography use among younger women. This study described mammography use among women aged 18-39 years.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2011-2015 National Survey of Family Growth, an in-person survey of a nationally representative sample of the U.S. household population. We estimated the prevalence of ever receiving a mammogram and examined reasons for the first mammograms among women aged 18-39 years without personal cancer history (n = 8324). We classified the first mammogram as a screening examination if it was performed either as part of a routine exam or because of family history of cancer.

Results: Among women aged 18-39 years, 14.3% (95% CI 13.2-15.4) reported ever having a mammogram. Prevalence of mammography use was highest among women aged 35-39 years (31.0%, 95% CI 27.8-34.5), and was higher among non-Hispanic black women than in other race/ethnicity groups. Women with a family history of breast cancer reported a higher prevalence of mammography use than women without this family history. For both women with and without a family history of breast cancer, about half of all first mammograms were performed for screening reasons.

Conclusions: Among U.S. women aged 18-39 years with no personal cancer history, one in seven reported having received a mammogram. Women with no family history of breast cancer were as likely as those with a family history to initiate breast cancer screening with mammography before age 40. Our findings provide evidence that supports further research to examine factors that prompt young women to receive screening mammograms.

Keywords: Mammography; Screening; Young women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / genetics
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Continental Population Groups / genetics
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult