Are mammography recommendations in women younger than 40 related to increased risk?

  • Julie M. KappEmail author
  • Bonnie C. Yankaskas
  • Michael L. LeFevre


Our objective was to examine the association between self-reported breast cancer risk factors and reported physician recommendations for mammography among women younger than 40. This study uses the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and includes 2,703 women ages 30–39 who reported having seen a doctor in the past 12 months. The NHIS is a population-based, cross-sectional survey of adult respondents in the United States. Overall, 19.0% of these women reported a recent mammography recommendation. Among women reporting no prior mammogram, women ages 30–34 with risk factors for breast cancer were more likely to report a recent mammogram recommendation than women without risk factors. There was no such association for women ages 35–39. Among women who reported a prior mammogram, risk factors were not associated with a recommendation for mammography; there was an association with age and recent clinical breast examination. Despite a lack of evidence-based guidelines for women under 40 years of age, these data suggest some younger women are being recommended for early mammography without indication. The relative benefits and harms of recommending mammography in this age group need further examination.


Mammography Mass screening Practice guidelines Breast neoplasms Risk factors 



The findings, interpretations, and conclusions in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The authors thank Joseph W. LeMaster, MD, MPH and David R. Mehr, MD, MS for their review of an earlier draft. The authors would like to acknowledge the expert editing of this manuscript by Mr. Dale Smith, University of Missouri-Columbia. Departmental funds supported his role in this project. No external funding supported this study and the authors report no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie M. Kapp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bonnie C. Yankaskas
    • 2
  • Michael L. LeFevre
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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