Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Breast Cancer Deaths in Younger, Unscreened Women

Mammograms should begin at age 40, researcher says


Women were described as unscreened if they had never had a mammogram or it had been more than two years since their last mammogram.

The findings confirmed the benefits of earlier screening, some experts said.

"[The study] presents a very compelling argument in favor of screening beginning at age 40 on an annual basis," said Dr. Barbara Monsees, chairwoman of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, who was not involved in the research. "It corroborates what we have known for a long time."

Overall, the study also showed an increase in breast cancer survival coinciding with the emergence of mammography. Half of women diagnosed with breast cancer in 1969 died within 13 years after diagnosis, compared to about 9 percent of those diagnosed between 1990 and 1999 who were included in this study.

Although some experts have credited the decline in breast cancer death rates to improved treatments, the study shows that's not the whole story, Monsees said. "This paper shows the decline is primarily due to earlier detection and better screening," she said.

Frequent screening is even more important in younger women than in older woman, she added. Tumors in older women typically grow slower than in younger women.

The bottom line: "Screening doesn't reduce the risk of getting breast cancer, but it does reduce the risk of dying from it," Monsees said.

Robert Smith, director of screening for the American Cancer Society, offered this perspective: "Regular screening was associated with a much, much lower likelihood of dying [from breast cancer]," compared to no screening or long-ago screening.

One-third of deaths among those who did get screened regularly were attributed to "interval cancers," those detected in between the mammograms done every two years. Although this shows that getting regular mammograms doesn't entirely eliminate the risk of dying from breast cancer, Smith said, "the message here is that mammography is a good part of your prevention plan."

If the cancer is detected early, options for breast-conserving surgery are greater and the risk of dying from the cancer is reduced, he said.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror