Breast cancer screenings are routine procedures to check breast health before there are any symptoms of a problem.
Because breast cancer may have no symptoms in the early stages, screenings can catch the problem when treatment has the best chance for a good outcome. Your doctor will consider your age, medical history and other risk factors in determining the type and frequency of breast cancer screenings.
Screening can save lives
Early detection is key to beating breast cancer. You are recommended to have a regular mammogram starting at age 40. Younger women with a family history or other risk factors should consult their doctor.
Types of breast cancer screening tests include:
Breast self-examination: Doctors recommend women of all ages perform the exam once a month. Self-exam involves moving your hand over each breast to feel for unusual lumps or tenderness. Anything suspicious should be reported to your doctor.
Clinical breast examination: Your doctor or other health care professional performs a clinical (or physical) breast exam by manually examining your breasts much like breast self-examination.
Mammograms: This test is simple, quick (usually 20 minutes or so) and safe. Mammograms performed on a regular basis (usually once a year when you are age 40 or older) often catch cancer when it is most easily treated. We offer both 2D mammograms and 3D mammograms. While mammograms are the single best tool for finding cancer, especially in its early stages, it is not a perfect test. Normal breast tissue may hide cancer from the test or an area may appear to be cancer when it is not.
Molecular breast imaging (MBI): Cancers appear white in mammograms. Dense breast tissue also appears white. As a result, dense breast tissue can sometimes mask tumors. Secondary screening using molecular breast imaging may help rule out cancer in these instances. (video about dense breast tissue)
Diagnostic test: Your doctor uses this when a screening test indicates something may be wrong. A biopsy of a suspicious lump in your breast is an example of a diagnostic test.
Getting ready for your mammogram
Before your appointment, remove any of these products from the breast area because they can cause non-diagnostic images to show on the mammogram:
Baby powder or talcum products
Digital mammography is quicker, with an improved paddle design that lessens discomfort. An over-the-counter pain reliever taken one hour before the exam may be beneficial.
Try to relax during your exam. Being nervous or tensing muscles can stress the chest muscles, which may add to discomfort.
After your mammogram
Expect to receive your mammogram results by mail within 30 days. You may use your secure and convenient My Marshfield Clinic account to receive results faster.
If you should have questions regarding your results or need follow up care, please contact your primary care physician.
High Risk Breast Service
Our High Risk Breast Service can help you understand your risk for breast cancer and if you are a candidate for future screening, medication or surgery options to reduce your risk. p>
Wisconsin Well Woman Program
We partner with the Wisconsin Well Woman Program to provide preventive cancer screenings for women with little or no health insurance coverage in our service area. p>