Can I get a mammogram if I am under 40?

Dr. Kelly J. Powers, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

Women under 40 can get a mammogram if they are at high risk of breast cancer, says Kelly Powers, MD, of Alaska Regional Hospital. Watch the video to find out which women need to get mammograms at an earlier age.

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

Mammogram is only one type of imaging used to detect breast changes that might be cancer. In women under 40, the risk of cancer is very low and the breasts are very dense. This means mammogram imaging is not as sensitive and is more likely to over identify problems. However, if you feel a mass in your breast or have other local changes at any age, imaging should be done. Call your clinician.

Dr. Elaine L. Wade, MD
Hematologist & Oncologist

Typically patients under 40 without family history or physical abnormality requesting a mammogram are not necessarily covered by insurance. Everyone's coverage does vary, and if there is an abnormality present that needs to be assessed imaging is supported, so it would not hurt to ask your physician.

Studies to date have not shown a benefit from regular screening mammography in women under age 40. The reason is that younger females have dense breasts and a mammogram can give false negative results. Earlier mammogram is, however, recommended for a woman who has a family history of breast cancer. A diagnostic mammogram may be indicated in the presence of breast mass at any age.

If you or your doctor has found a suspicious lump during a breast exam at any age, it’s time to have it looked at. Age 40 is the general rule of thumb to start having yearly mammograms. However, if you or your doctor feels for any reason you should have one sooner, now’s the time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.