While more women are now surviving the disease than ever before, breast cancer remains the leading cause of death in women under 50 in England and Wales1 - with over 920 younger women losing their lives to the disease in 2017.
Recent studies "have focused media attention on some of the risks of mammography screening, such as call-backs for additional imaging and breast biopsies", he said.
"These are the first significant data on the benefits of screening in women aged 35-39", he said.
Latest U.S. estimates indicate that since 1989, hundreds of thousands of women's lives have been saved by mammography and improvements in breast cancer treatment.
While there has been a slight increase in the number of women being diagnosed with breast cancer, the study showed death rates are declining. In unscreened women, just 45% (131/293) of breast cancers were detected when the tumour was 2cm or smaller in size and 54% (158/290) of cases had already spread to the lymph nodes.
The trial compared the results to an unscreened cohort of women aged 35-39 and at increased risk - with annual screening being shown to almost double the proportion of tumours detected before they were over 2cm in size. Hence, before allowing it to spread in the entire body, these small tumors could be removed permanently to prevent women from breast cancer.
"Over 335,000 women were diagnosed with new breast cancer in the United States in 2018", she noted, and "eight out of ten of these women have no family history of breast cancer".
Under current NHS guidelines, women are not regularly screened until the age of 40, but bringing testing forward would see an extra 86,000 women undergoing check-ups each year.
Lead author Professor Gareth Evans, from the University of Manchester, said the results of the new trial were "very promising". Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings point to progress made in early detection and management of breast cancer.
The study conducted at the University of Manchester by the charity carried out scanning of 2,899 women aged between 35-39 who have a moderate or high risk of disease.
He said more research is now needed to determine the impact of this screening on women's overall survival.
"The most important thing is to create awareness for breast cancer, our ability to fight and early detection", said Starkey.
An NHS England spokesperson said an upcoming review will consider changes to the screening programme.