Breast cancer screenings: How young? How old? How often?

This year, more than 230,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer. But there is good news. There are more than 2.5 million survivors of breast cancer nationwide - those currently undergoing and who have completed treatment. Breast cancer awareness isn't just someone else's cause. If you're a woman or a man - men, too, get breast cancer - you owe it to yourself to be aware of the health of your own breasts.

Mortality rates for breast cancer have declined in the past 20 years by 31 percent. More women are getting screened, and it makes a difference. Mammograms are the best form of early detection, and they have the potential to save your life.

With a recent shift in recommendations, you might be wondering how young or old you need to be to get screened, and also how often. Providence Health Plans recommends you meet with your health care provider to discuss what's right for you.

Early breast cancer usually develops without symptoms, which is why getting a mammogram is so important. If you experience any of the following symptoms of breast cancer, schedule an appointment with your health care provider as soon as possible:

  • A lump or thickening in your breast
  • A change in the size, shape or texture of your breast, such as redness, dimpling or puckering on the skin or nipple
  • Bloody discharge from your nipple, or discharge that looks like pus and is yellow or green in color

For more information on breast cancer screening, check out our mammography web page, or visit Providence Cancer Center for additional resources and information.

Sources: American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure