Family History of Breast Cancer May Influence Age at First Mammogram

Among women with a family history of breast cancer, the relative’s age at diagnosis may influence her age at first mammogram.

Posted by Danielle Durham, PhD at 2:36 PM on Nov 2, 2020


Women with a family history of breast cancer (FHBC) are sometimes advised to begin screening mammography when they are 10 years younger than the age that their relative was diagnosed. Using this strategy could mean that some women would begin screening mammography before 40 years of age, which is earlier than current guideline recommendations.

A study published in Cancer Causes & Control suggests that women with a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) who was diagnosed with breast cancer may begin breast cancer screening at a younger age than do women who do not have a FHBC. The study used Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium data to examine the age at which women begin screening mammography compared to women without a FHBC. Compared to women without a FHBC, women with a FHBC were more likely to begin screening before 40 years, especially if their relative was diagnosed before 50 years. Among women with a FHBC who initiated screening before 40 years, 65% were 10 years younger than the age at which their relative was diagnosed with breast cancer. The study suggests that the age at which a woman’s relative was diagnosed with breast cancer may influence the age at which she begins screening.

Full Text Citation and Link: Durham, D. D., Roberts, M. C., Khan, C. P., Abraham, L. A., Smith, R. A., Kerlikowske, K., & Miglioretti, D. L. (2020). Age at initiation of screening mammography by family history of breast cancer in the breast cancer surveillance consortium. Cancer Causes & Control, 1-5. October 24 2020 Epub ahead of print doi.org/10.1007/s10552-020-01354-5  [Link to Article]

Posted by: Danielle Durham, PhD