Early Detection Tips

  • Monthly breast self-exams beginning by age 20

  • Clinical breast examinations at least every 3 years beginning at age 20, and annually after 40.

  • Annual Screening Mammography beginning at 40.

  • Women under 40 with either a family history or other concerns about personal risk should consult with a trained medical professional about when to begin mammography.

    On Mammograms-
  • A mammogram is a safe x-ray of your breast, that looks for breast cancers that are too small for you or your doctor to feel.

  • Most women do not find mammography painful. However, in can be slightly uncomfortable. The exam usually takes about 15 minutes.

  • Modern mammography equipment uses very small doses of radiation and does not cause an increased risk of breast cancer.

  • Most insurance companies pay for screening mammograms. There are many no-cost and low-cost programs available. Medicaid and Medicare also cover clinical breast exams and mammograms, as well as other preventive services. For more information, call the Medicare Hotline at 1-800-638-6833.

  • Ask to see the FDA certificate that is issued to all facilities that meet high professional standards of safety and quality.

  • Use a facility that either specializes in mammography or performs many mammograms per day.

  • If you are satisfied that the facility is of high quality, continue to go there on a regular basis so that your mammograms can be compared from year to year.

  • If you change facilities, ask for your old mammograms to bring with you to the new facility so that they can be compared to the new ones.

  • If you have sensitive breasts, try having your mammogram at a time of the month when your breasts will be the least tender. Try to avoid the week right before your period. This will help lessen discomfort.
  • Don't wear deodorant, powder, or cream under your arms - it may interfere with the quality of the mammogram.

  • Bring a list of the places and dates of the mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatments you have had before.

  • If you do not hear from your physician within 10 days, do not assume that your mammogram is normal - confirm this by calling your physician or the facility.

  • Courtesy The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation


How to check your breasts

At the same time each month, check for any change in the normal look or feel of your breasts. Look for lump, hard knot, or skin that thickens or dimples. Report any changes to your doctor or nurse. Go for regular breast exams and pap tests. Ask about a mammogram.

To examine your breasts, follow these steps:

  • Lying Down
    Place a pillow under your right shoulder. Put your right hand under your head. Check your entire breast area with the finger pads of your left hand. Use small circles and follow an up and down pattern. Use light, medium and firm pressure over each area of your breast. Repeat these steps over your left breast.

  • Before a Mirror
    Check for any changes in the shape or look of your breast. Note any skin or nipple changes such as dimpling or nipple discharge. Inspect your breast in four steps: arms at side, arms overhead, hands on hips pressing firmly to flex chest muscles, and bending forward.

  • In The Shower
    Raise your right arm. With soapy hands and fingers flat, check your right breast. Use the method described in the 'Lying Down' step. Repeat on your left breast.

    Courtesy The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation



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