Women with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer should receive screenings far earlier in life, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Manchester examined data from 2,899 women aged 35-39.

With at least one first-degree relative affected by cancer, participating women were considered moderate-to-high-risk. One group received annual screenings starting age 35; the other none until 40, the NHS norm age.

Among women who received early annual breast screenings — called mammograms — 80% of tumours detected were 2cm in size or smaller.

Only one in five tumours detected had reached the lymph nodes, meaning earlier mammograms helped catch the disease before it spread around the body.

Funded by charity Breast Cancer Now, the study comes after last year’s NHS screening scandal, which saw 450,000 older women miss life-saving screenings.

Up to 86,000 British women would be eligible for earlier mammographies. As the government prepares to review NHS screening programmes, one NHS spokeswoman told the BBC possible changes to the system “will be considered.”

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.