Frequently Asked Questions

When should I be screened for breast cancer?

  • At age 40 and older: have a mammogram and a clinical breast examination by a health professional every year
  • In your 20s and 30s: have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular health exam at least every three years
  • At age 20 and older: begin doing breast self exam (BSE) and report any changes to your healthcare team

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

You are at higher risk for developing breast cancer if you:

  • Are age 40 or older with the risk increasing after age 70
  • Are female
  • Have a family history of breast cancer
  • Are from an African American or Ashkenazi Jewish background
  • Began menstruating before age 12 or entered menopause after age 55
  • Use hormone replacement therapy longer than five years
  • Consume more than one alcoholic drink a day
  • Are overweight, which increases risk for breast cancer after menopause
  • Are a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carrier 

What are the most common symptoms of breast cancer?

  • A painless lump in or near the breast
  • A change in breast size or firmness

  • Breast skin changes such as dimpling, a sore or a rash

  • Nipple itching, burning, rash, turning inward or discharge
  • A warm area in the breast

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. Keep in mind: most lumps are not cancerous, but they should be examined.

What are the advantages of digital mammogram?

  • Higher quality image – capturing many of the subtle differences between cancerous and noncancerous tissue
  • Increased convenience – reducing breast compression time and uncomfortable positioning
  • Faster access to images – providing women and their physicians with quicker results
  • Reduced exposure to X-ray—a significant reduction in X-ray exposure in comparison to standard film mammography and fewer repeat scans needed

What are some tips for conducting a breast self-exam?

Conducting breast self-exam (BSE) helps detect any abnormalities early.

  • Do your BSE monthly to know what your “normal” feels like.
  • The best time is several days after your period ends. If you no longer menstruate, choose the first or last day of the month.
  • What’s important is that you get to know the look and feel of your breasts. If you notice a change, tell your doctor.
  • Start a journal to record the findings of your breast self-exams. It can help you remember what feels “normal.”

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