UP to 86,000 women in their thirties with a family history of breast cancer should receive annual mammograms, say researchers.
A study at 34 UK screening centres found the checks for those aged 35 to 39 at moderate or high risk spotted smaller tumours compared with those not tested.
Earlier diagnosis also meant the cancer was less likely to have spread.
NHS screening is meant to start at 40 for women known to be in danger.
The study, funded by charity Breast Cancer Now, followed 2,899 at- risk females aged 35 to 29.
In total, 50 breast cancers were detected, 35 of them were invasive.
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Of those 35, 80 per cent were found by screening when the tumour was 2cm or smaller, and 20 per cent had spread to the lymph nodes.
In the control group who weren’t given mammograms, only 45 per cent of cancers were detected when they were still small — and far more had started travelling.
The charity’s chief Baroness Delyth Morgan said: “We believe we may be able to stop the disease cutting so many women’s lives so heartbreakingly short.”