Over one in five U.S. women between the ages of 35 and 44 have never received a mammogram and have no plans to get one, a survey released September 28 by Orlando Health found.
Researchers led by Dr. Nikita Shah from the Florida-based health network also found that less than half of U.S. women know their family history of breast cancer and about a third know their individual risk factors for breast cancer. The survey was conducted online by the Harris Poll on behalf of Orlando Health.
Recent guideline updates by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend that women of average risk of breast cancer should begin annual mammograms at age 40. However, women with risk factors like a family history of breast cancer, prior biopsies, atypical cells, and dense breast tissue should begin earlier, the guidelines state.
Research points to receiving regular mammograms as a driver of decreasing breast cancer mortality over the decades by detecting cancers early in women for better treatment options and outcomes.
Shah and colleagues wanted to gauge interest and awareness in undergoing mammography in a survey of 1,030 women.
They found that 22% of the women reported having never received a mammogram and have no plans of starting. They also found that 43% of women know their family history of breast cancer while 32% know their individual risk factors.
While most national guidelines suggest that women undergo risk assessment for breast cancer at 30 years of age, the Orlando Health team suggested that the conversation with primary care physicians happen in their 20s. The group also said monthly self-breast exams are important to help women understand what is normal for them, so they can recognize any changes and bring them to their doctor's attention.