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Breast Cancer Screening

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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. 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:

  • Deodorant residue
  • Baby powder or talcum products
  • Creams
  • Perfumes

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.

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Breast cancer care

Others have breast cancer treatments, but none have a team of breast cancer specialists in your backyard like Marshfield Clinic Health System.

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Mobile health

If you are a woman and older than 40, you should have a mammogram every year. We have mobile health screening units that travel throughout Wisconsin.

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Upcoming events

We support many community events that provide education and training about breast cancer screenings.

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About breast cancer


Breast self-exams in 3 easy steps

Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams once a month.

More blogs:


Mammograms: Myths, facts and screening guidelines
Breast-care_I-466844474.jpg A care coordinator’s role in your breast cancer treatment
Double-Masectomy.jpg Breast cancer: Is removing the healthy breast worth it?