Breast Cancer Screenings
It’s important not to put off getting preventive screenings. Skipping them means you may miss a chance to catch and treat problems early. There is no cost for a breast cancer screening, and it could save your life.
Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in one or both breasts. Breast cancer is the second deadliest cancer in women, but has a 98 percent survival rate when detected early.
Breast cancer screenings are important for all women because they can help find breast cancer early. And they can have a big impact, since one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. The best news: Getting the screening takes only around 20 minutes!
Breast Cancer FAQ
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A woman in the U.S. has one in eight chance of getting breast cancer at some point in her life. More than 250,000 women in the U.S. will find out they have breast cancer this year. Around 40,000 women will die, but as mentioned, there is a 98 percent survival rate when detected early.
Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to know how your breasts normally look and feel. A breast self-exam can reveal changes. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in your breast, but other symptoms include:
- A change in the way the breast looks.
- A change in the nipple (turned in or scaly).
- Swelling in the breast.
- Skin irritation and dimpling.
- Fluid that comes out of the nipple.
Yes. Although it mostly occurs in women, men can get it, too.
Options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. You and your doctor will decide which treatments are best for you.
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 50 to 74 get a breast cancer screening every two years.
The most common screenings are mammograms, clinical breast exams, and breast self-exams.
- A mammogram is an x-ray used to detect and assess changes in the breast.
- In a clinical breast exam, a medical professional uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes in the breast.
- A breast self-exam is when you check your own breasts for lumps or changes in size and shape.
Around 20 minutes. Then it’s over, and you can feel great about taking care of yourself.
You can schedule your screening at any of the following places:
You do not need a referral to schedule a breast cancer screening.
- Radiology and imaging center
- Mammography clinic
- Hospital radiology department
- Some doctors’ offices
All preventive screenings cost nothing for UPMC Health Plan members.
How to prepare for a screening
Before a screening, you may feel nervous, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here some tips to help you get ready for your screening:
- Before the mammogram, the provider will ask you to change into a gown. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear a shirt or top you can remove easily.
- Avoid using deodorants, perfumes, powders, or lotions on your breasts and underarm areas on the day of the exam. The ingredients in these products can show up on a mammogram and make it harder to read.
- During the exam, each breast is placed between two plates, and an x-ray image is made. Normally, two views of each breast are taken: one with the x-ray beam aimed from top to bottom, and the other from side to side. The entire process takes about 20 minutes.
- Sometimes the pressure you feel can be uncomfortable, but it only lasts for a few seconds. If you have concerns about this, check with your primary care provider before your screening for ways to help ease your anxiety or discomfort.
- Be sure to tell the person who is administering the screening if you have concerns or feel discomfort during the exam.
Sources: Society of Breast Imaging, American College of Radiology and Susan G. Komen.