Women now urged to get mammograms starting at age 40

By Brian Ward

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that women start getting mammograms at age 40 instead of 50 to detect signs of breast cancer.

The draft recommendations say female patients should be screened when they’re 40, then once every other year. The draft recommendation was issued May 9 and is open for public comment until June 5, 2023.

“This new recommendation will help save lives and prevent more women from dying due to breast cancer,” said former task force chair Dr. Carol Mangione in a video accompanying the recommendations.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the most common cancer in America after skin cancers, with one in eight women developing breast cancer in their lifetime. On average, one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes in the United States.

The task force called for more breast cancer research for improved screening of women with dense breasts and addressing the racial health disparities.

In its findings, the task force reported that Black women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than White women. It also reported that half of all women have dense breasts, which may hinder the effectiveness of mammograms and might require additional testing. 

The task force is an independent, volunteer group of 16 national experts in the fields of preventive medicine and primary care.