A female nurse helps a patient as she operates a mammogram machine


Facts about Breast Health

Mammogram: Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. While mammograms can miss some cancers, they are still a very good way to find breast cancer.

Some insurance companies pay for mammograms for women ages 35-39. If you are in this age range, please talk with your doctor to receive a referral for a mammogram screening.

Clinical Breast Exam: Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular exam by a doctor, preferably every three years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health expert every year. It might be a good idea to have the CBE shortly before the mammogram. You can use the exam to learn what your own breasts look and feel like.

Breast Self Awareness (BSA): Women should report any changes in how their breasts look or feel to a doctor or nurse right away.

The most important thing is to see a doctor right away if you notice any of these changes:

  • A lump or swelling
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
  • A discharge other than breast milk
  • Remember that most of the time these breast changes are not cancer.

Women at high risk: Women with a family history of breast cancer (i.e. mother, sister, or daughter) as well as women with a previous history of breast cancer are considered high risk for the disease. Women with a higher risk for breast cancer should talk with a doctor about the best early detection plan. This might mean starting mammograms when they are younger, having extra tests, or having more frequent exams.

Information provided by the American Cancer Society – www.cancer.org

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