The American Cancer Society recommends screening mammography annually for women aged 40 years and older. It is recommended that you get your first mammogram at age 40, unless you have a strong family history of breast cancer then you would start getting yearly mammograms 5 years before the age of the family members cancer diagnosis. So, in other words, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 then you would start your mammograms at age 35 years. A baseline mammogram is no longer recommended. All women should have clinical breast examinations as part of the physical examination.
We strongly encourage women to know and understand their bodies. Knowing what is normal for you and what is not normal in terms of your health is very important. We recommend that you wash your breasts with your bare hands and utilize a monthly visual inspection of your bare breasts in the mirror to detect breast changes. Some important signs to look for are:
- Lumps: Breast cancer lumps vary and may be hard or soft and have rounded or uneven edges.
- Swelling of part of the breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- Red or scaly appearance of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- A lump in the underarm area
REMEMBER: These signs and symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. However, you should tell your doctor right away about any lump in the breast or underarm area and any changes in the skin of the breast, nipple, or areola (the area around the nipple).