Breast Exam Basics
You should have your breasts examined regularly by your doctor for lumps and other signs of cancer. Talk with your doctor about how often you need breast examinations and about doing breast self-exams. Tell your doctor if you notice a lump in your breast, any liquid coming from the nipple or any change in the appearance of your breast.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can detect breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is large enough to feel or cause any symptoms.
Why should I have a mammogram?
A mammogram can find breast cancer that is too small for you or your doctor to detect. Cancer is most easily treated and cured when it is discovered in an early stage.
How do I know if I need a mammogram?
- If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.
- If you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a mammogram screening every year.
Tell your doctor if your mother or sister has had breast cancer. Depending on your family history, and other risk factors, your doctor may have you get a mammogram before age 40 or more frequently.
See the Preventive Health Guidelines for mammogram and other important health screening information.
How often should I get a mammogram?
Cancer can show up at any time, so one mammogram is not enough. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how often to get a mammogram. If you find a lump, or see other changes in your breast, see your doctor right away.
How is a mammogram done?
You will stand in front of a special X-ray machine. The technician will place your breast on a clear plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press your breast from above. The plates will flatten the breast while the X-ray is taken. This may be uncomfortable for a few seconds, but it helps to get clear pictures. The steps are then repeated to make a side view of each breast.
When will I get the results of my mammogram?
Depending on the facility, you usually get the results within a few weeks. However, some facilities have radiologists on staff that can review your mammogram and give you the results the very same day.
Where can I get a mammogram?
To find out where you can get a mammogram, ask your primary care physician, or call the Member Services number on your member identification card.
Community Wellness Programs and Support Groups
If you or a loved one is battling cancer, support is available. Click below to find out about the services available to you.