A mammogram (x-ray examination of the breast) can detect and diagnose breast disease in women who either have breast problems such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge, as well as for women who have no breast complaints.
Even if you are extremely familiar with the way your breasts feel as they change throughout your menstrual cycle, there’s only so much you can detect by touch. Today’s high-quality screening mammography is the most effective tool available to physicians in detecting breast cancer before lumps can be felt or symptoms of cancer appear.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women (other than skin cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. Early detection of breast cancer not only helps provide a woman with more options, but also increases the possibility of a favorable prognosis.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Any woman may develop breast cancer. However, the following risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing the disease.
Risk factors that cannot be changed
- gender (breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men)
- race (Asian, Hispanic and American Indian women have a lower risk of getting breast cancer, and White women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer than are African-American women, but African American women are more likely to die of this cancer)
- aging (a majority of cases occur after age 50)
- personal history of breast cancer
- previous breast irradiation
- family history and genetic factors (having a close relative, such as a mother or sister, with breast cancer increases the risk)
- benign breast disease
- previous breast biopsy in which the tissue showed atypical hyperplasia
- menstrual periods that began early in life
- menopause that began later in life
The most frequently cited lifestyle-related risk factors
- not having children, or first child after age 30
- oral contraceptives
- obesity and a high-fat diet
- physical inactivity
- long-term, post-menopausal use of combined estrogen and progestin (HRT)
- weight gain and obesity after menopause
Environmental risk factors
- exposure to pesticides or other chemicals is currently being examined as a possible risk factor
American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Guidelines
for Early Breast Cancer Detection
|Age||Under 40||40 to 49||Over 50|
|Breast Self-Exams (BSE)||Monthly||Monthly||Monthly|
|Clinical Breast Exams (CBE)||At least every three years||Annually||Annually|
|Mammography||Have a baseline mammogram between ages 35 and 39||Every one to two years, depending on your risk||Annually|
These guidelines are for women who have no symptoms of breast cancer. If you have symptoms or signs, see your physician. Keep in mind that the sooner a problem is detected, the greater your choices in treatment options.
Medicare and most private insurance carriers cover all or part of the cost for mammography. In addition, Mee offers special programs and lower fees during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. For low-income women, mammograms are covered through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). There is also a new program to help pay for breast cancer treatment for women in need. To learn more about these programs, you can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1.888.842.6355.
From www.komen.org with permission of Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Early detection is the key to successfully treating breast cancer. As part of the three-step breast health approach, Susan G. Komen for the Cure recommends that beginning by age 20, women become familiar with the look and feel of their breasts through monthly breast self-examination (BSE).
Komen for the Cure offers a variety of BSE cards in English and Spanish you can download. You can also order a free BSE card. Please include your name and complete address. Here are some useful documents:
NOTE: You Will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print these documents.
Do you qualify for a free breast exam and mammogram?
You may if you:
- are at least 40 years old
- have low income
- have medical insurance that does not cover these services
- have a high insurance deductible or co-payment
- are not getting these services through Medi-Cal or another government-sponsored program
- live in California
Information about Mammography
Call 1.800.511.2300 for more information. (www.dhs.ca.gov)
Mammography at Mee Memorial Hospital is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
For additional information about mammography or to schedule an appointment, call our Mammography Coordinator at (831) 385-7130. Find out about events, news, resources, volunteer opportunities and more at your local American Cancer Society (ACS) office:
Central Coast Counties Unit – ACS 1184 Monroe Street Suites 1 & 2 Salinas, CA 93906 Phone: 831.442.2992
San Luis Obispo Unit – ACS 1428 Phillips Lane Suite 201 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Phone: 805.543.1481