The conventional wisdom is that women under 40 rarely need a screening mammogram. The results of a new study indicate that the conventional wisdom is right.

A retrospective study of 117,738 women aged 18 to 39 who were imaged from 1995 to 2005 found that only 14.3 cancers per 1,000 mammograms were detected. The numbers were even more significant considering that the 637 women under the age of 25 were all cancer free.

The most highly imaged group—women aged 35 to 39—had a recall rate of 12.7% with 1.6 cancers detected. Most of the women in the study reported no family history of the cancer. The authors of the study, led by Bonnie C. Yankaskas, Ph.D., of the Department of Radiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concluded that in a theoretical population of 10,000 women aged 35 to 39, 1,266 will screen positive, with 16 of these diagnosed with cancer and the remainder receiving a false-positive result.

The results of the study were published in the May 3, 2010, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (



(Source: Press Release and Abstract)