At What Age Should You Get a Mammogram?

Healthcare providers usually recommend starting mammogram screenings for breast cancer from the ages of 40 to 50. Recommendations can vary significantly for people at a higher risk for breast cancer.

However, the exact age depends on the professional organization's guidelines your healthcare provider chooses to follow. For example, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends breast cancer screening beginning at age 45 with the option to start at age 40, whereas the Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends mammography beginning at age 50.

This article explains mammogram recommendations for people at average and high risk for breast cancer.

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Average Risk of Breast Cancer

The average risk of breast cancer means you have a typical (rather than high) chance of developing the disease.

Breast cancer is among the most common cancers in women, second only to skin cancer. The median age for breast cancer diagnosis is 62, with only a small percentage of people diagnosed before age 45. About 1 in 8 people with breasts will develop breast cancer.

Black Women and Breast Cancer

Black people have the highest death rate from breast cancer and have a higher chance of developing the disease at a younger age. Although the higher incidence of triple-negative breast cancer in Black people may play a role, the causes for the disparities are likely rooted in structural racism.

Professional Organizations’ Guidelines

Organizations have various recommendations for when to begin routine mammography screening for people at average risk of developing breast cancer.

Mammography Recommendations for Average-Risk People
Organization Age  Frequency
American Cancer Society 45 Annually
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force 50 Every 2 years
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 40 Annual or biennial 
American College of Physicians (ACP) 50 Every 2 years
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) 50 Every 2 years

While the recommendations vary, each organization agrees mammography is a personal decision and can begin as early as 40. However, the USPSTF urges caution while weighing early screening in average-risk people because of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

High Risk of Breast Cancer

If you are at higher risk of developing breast cancer, you may require mammography starting at a younger age and more frequently.

Risk Factors

The main risk factors for breast cancer are having breasts and advancing age. Beyond that, some things can place people at additional risk, including:

Professional Organizations’ Guidelines

Screening guidelines are generally more conservative if there are additional risk factors for developing breast cancer. The following organizations recommend earlier screening for those with risk factors:

  • ACS recommends beginning at age 30
  • The USPSTF recommends starting screening in your 40s
  • AAFP suggests screenings beginning in your 40s

Other organizations are vaguer, and some do not recommend different screening approaches. The ACOG suggests consultation with a healthcare provider with expertise in gene mutations, and the ACP does not offer altered recommendations.

When to Get Screened Early

Not all breast cancer shows symptoms—especially in the early stages, which is why screening is important. However, sometimes people detect breast cancer by noting specific changes in their breasts.

Some signs that could indicate breast cancer include:

If you experience these symptoms, make an appointment with a healthcare provider for screening and diagnosis.

Other Breast Screening Tests

A mammogram is the standard test for routine screening, but there are other screening tests to detect breast cancer. Other diagnostic tools for detecting breast cancer include:

Mammography is typically recommended for screening purposes for most people. If you have abnormal mammogram results, a healthcare provider may recommend one or more further tests, like those mentioned above.

If you have symptoms of breast cancer or have certain risk factors, a healthcare provider may recommend the above tests in addition to a mammogram.


Different organizations have different recommendations for the timing and frequency of mammogram screenings. For people at average risk of developing breast cancer, screening recommendations range from 40 to 50 and repeat the screening test annually or biennially (every other year) after that age. For those at higher risk, some organizations recommend starting as early as 30, while others follow the same guidelines for average-risk individuals.

A Word From Verywell

A lot of factors go into a decision about when to begin mammogram screenings for breast cancer. Like other cancer screenings, mammograms are essential for detecting cancer early. But starting too early or having them too frequently can result in overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Therefore, it's best to consult with a healthcare provider familiar with your history for when it's best to start your mammogram screenings.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why are mammograms not recommended before age 40?

    While mammograms' benefits outweigh the risk as people get older, the same is not true for younger people. The potential harm from mammograms, including overdiagnosis, overtreatment, invasive follow-up tests, and psychological harm from false positive tests, is greater the younger you are.

  • Does every person with breasts need an annual mammogram?

    Guidelines vary on the frequency of mammograms for breast cancer screening. Some organizations, like the American Cancer Society, recommend annual screening. All others recommend them every other year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests every one to two years.

  • Should you have a mammogram early if your mom had breast cancer?

    If you have a first-degree (a parent or sibling) or second-degree (a grandparent, parent's sibling, or cousin) relative who had breast cancer, you are at greater risk of developing breast cancer. Therefore, some organizations recommend starting mammogram screening earlier—as early as your 30s or 40s.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Cancer Society. Get screened.

  2. U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Breast cancer: Screening.

  3. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for breast cancer.

  4. American Cancer Society. More black women die from breast cancer than any other cancer.

  5. American Cancer Society. Recommendations for the early detection of breast cancer.

  6. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Breast cancer risk assessment and screening in average-risk women.

  7. Qaseem A, Lin JS, Mustafa RA, et al. Screening for breast cancer in average-risk women: A guidance statement from the American college of physiciansAnn Intern Med. 2019;170(8):547-560. doi:10.7326/M18-2147

  8. American Family Physician. Screening for breast cancer: Recommendation statement.

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How is breast cancer diagnosed?.

By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.