May 03, 2017

Are you up to date? Regular breast cancer checks and self-exams can help you stay healthy

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It’s too easy to put off your health screenings when you’re busy. But regular breast exams should be a part of every woman’s wellness plan — even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer. Regular checks can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat — and beat!

Screenings can help you protect yourself

  1. Be aware of the signs and symptoms. A lump, swelling, pain, discharge, or skin changes are signs that should be checked by a doctor.
  2. Know how to do a breast self-exam. This is a check-up a woman can do at home to look for changes or problems in the breast tissue.
  3. Have regular checkups. A yearly clinical breast exam by a doctor or other health professional is an important screening tool.
  4. Get a yearly mammogram, and remind the women around you to do so as well. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue, using very low levels of radiation. Your age, family history, and other risk factors determine when you should start.

Talk with your doctor to find out what is right for you.

Regular screenings are important. Survival rates for breast cancer are very high — especially when it’s caught early. The five year survival rate for breast cancer in stages 0, 1 or 2 is between 93% and 100%.

Have you had any of these three tests recently?


What happens during a mammogram?

  • A technician uses a machine to take a few pictures of your breasts by placing each breast between two X-ray panels.
  • The panels will push your breast closer between the panels to get a clear picture.
  • Each X-ray picture takes less than one minute.

Who should get one?

All women who are age 40 and up. Please talk to your doctors about how often you should get a mammogram. You should know that 70% – 80% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. And the chance of getting breast cancer is greater as women age. So it’s important for each woman to discuss her family history with her doctor.

You might need to get a mammogram before age 40 if any of the following apply to you:

  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Personal history of breast cancer or other breast problems

Make sure the test you’re getting is covered. Many facilities are now offering 3-D mammograms; however, 3-D mammograms are not a covered benefit. Data is lacking on 3-D versus 2-D mammograms with regards to improving the detection of cancer. If you have questions, call customer service at the number listed on your ID card.