Breast Cancer Screening

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In 2019, 76.4% of women aged 50-74 years had a mammogram within the past 2 years.

Summary graph for Breast Cancer Screening, Click to see detailed view of graph

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Background

Mammography screening uses an x-ray of the breast to look for tumors in women who don’t have symptoms. This screening method allows for the earlier detection of breast cancer, which, when followed by timely treatment, can help reduce deaths due to the disease. In part because age is the most important risk factor for breast cancer, women aged 60 to 69 years are likely to derive the greatest absolute benefit from screening.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women aged 50 to 74 years receive a mammogram every 2 years, and that women aged 40 to 49 years make an individual decision regarding screening.

Measure

The percentage of women aged 50 to 74 years who reported having had a mammogram within the past 2 years, by race/ethnicity, income, and education level.

Measurement challenges

We track breast cancer screening rates in U.S. women using a large, national, in-person survey in which people are asked about their health behaviors and the medical care they receive (see Data Source, below). There are important limitations to this method that impact what information we can accurately collect and how confident we can be in the findings. Studies have found that certain types of healthcare survey questions can be difficult for people to clearly understand and answer, and it is easy for some questions to be misinterpreted.

In the case of breast cancer screening, it can be challenging to determine by self-report alone if a woman received a mammogram for the purposes of looking for asymptomatic, previously undetected cancer (i.e., for screening purposes), or to follow up on symptoms or suspicious findings from a prior test (i.e., for diagnostic purposes). From an individual’s point of view both tests appear similar to the patient experiencing them. Additionally, looking for new or recurrent asymptomatic cancer in a person previously diagnosed and treated for that cancer type represents a third type of testing known as surveillance testing. People may also not always accurately recall the specific time they received a particular test. As people do not always accurately recall what medical tests they have received, the purpose of that testing, or its exact timing, our measure captures any type of mammogram received by a woman, and the population may include those with a prior diagnosis of breast cancer. Our measure captures general receipt of a mammogram (yes/no) more accurately than its underlying purpose. This serves as a reasonable approximation, although an overestimate, of the true U.S. breast cancer screening rate, i.e., the measure is not perfectly comparing the actual frequency of women’s use of mammograms to national recommendations.

Even though the National Health Interview Survey breast cancer screening measures have limitations, it is the best nationally representative data we have available to assess breast cancer screening rates. It is frequently used by governmental and other organizations to track screening use over time in the US.

Healthy People 2030 Target

  • Increase to 77.1 percent the proportion of women aged 50 to 74 years who have received a breast cancer screening based on the most recent guidelines.

Healthy People 2030 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 1987–2019.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

By Race/Ethnicity

Percent of females aged 50-74 years who had mammography within the past 2 years by race/ethnicity, 1987-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of women 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percent of females aged 50-74 years who had mammography within the past 2 years by race/ethnicity, 1987-2019 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 76.4 75.1 - 77.6
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 76.0 74.5 - 77.5
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 79.1 75.1 - 82.6
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 78.5 74.6 - 82.0

By Poverty Income Level

Percent of females aged 50-74 years who had mammography within the past 2 years by poverty income level, 1998-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of women 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percent of females aged 50-74 years who had mammography within the past 2 years by poverty income level, 1998-2019 <200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for <200% of federal poverty level 68.3 65.6 - 70.8
>=200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >=200% of federal poverty level 79.6 78.1 - 80.9

By Education Level

Percent of females aged 50-74 years who had mammography within the past 2 years by highest level of education obtained, 1987-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of women 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percent of females aged 50-74 years who had mammography within the past 2 years by highest level of education obtained, 1987-2019 Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 69.4 64.4 - 74.0
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 73.2 70.7 - 75.6
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 79.0 77.6 - 80.4

Additional Information on Breast Cancer Screening

Year Range

1987-2019

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2015-2019

Summary Tables

Breast and Cervical Cancers

Recent Summary Trend

Stable

Desired Direction

Rising