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The Komen Mission:
To eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment.

Breast Health


3. Mammography

Q. What is mammography?
A. A mammogram is a safe low-dose X ray of your breasts that looks for breast cancer that is too small for you or your health-care provider to feel. If your health-care provider does not suggest a mammogram, ask for one.

Q. When should I get a mammogram?
A. Every woman age 40 and over should have a yearly mammogram.

Q. Does mammography hurt?
A. A mammogram takes only a few seconds of pressure, and it can be slightly uncomfortable; however, most women do not find mammography painful.

Q. If no one in my family has had breast cancer do I need a mammogram?
A. Yes. Although having breast cancer in your family may increase your risk, most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer.

Q. Are mammograms safe? I heard they cause cancer.
A. Modern mammography equipment uses very small doses of radiation and does not cause an increased risk of breast cancer.

Q. If I'm age 65 or older should I have a mammogram?
A. Yes. Yearly mammograms are essential for women 65 years and older because the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.

Q. Is a mammogram expensive?
A. Most insurance companies pay for screening mammograms. No-cost and low-cost programs are available through the Cancer Detection Program and the YWCA EncorePlus programs. For additional information call the American Cancer Society or the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Medi-Cal and Medicare also cover clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Q. If my doctor says they found something suspicious on my mammogram, but suggests waiting, what should I do?
A. Ask if there is another procedure that can be done to confirm a diagnosis. Consider seeking a second opinion.

American Cancer Society's 8 tips for a good mammogram:

1. Ask to see a FDA certificate that is issued to all facilities that meet high professional standards of safety and quality.

2. Use a facility that either specializes in mammography or performs many mammograms per day.

3. If you are satisfied that the facility is of high quality, continue to go there on a regular basis so that your mammograms can be compared year to year.

4. If you change facilities, ask for your old mammograms to take with you to the new facility so they can be compared to the new ones.

5. If you have sensitive breasts, have your mammogram at a time of the month when your breasts will be least tender. Try to avoid the week right before your period. This will help to lessen the discomfort.

6. Don’t wear deodorant powder or cream under your arms as it may interfere with the quality of the mammogram.

7. Bring a list of the places, dates of mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatments you have had before.

8. If you do not hear from your physician within 10 days, do not assume your mammogram is normal. Confirm this by calling your physician or the facility.

3. If you're over 40 . . .
  • ask for a mammogram
• it is an x ray picture of the inside of your breast
• it could save your life and could also save your breast

These guidelines are for women with no known risk factors. Women with symptoms, breast health concerns and/or a family history of breast cancer should consult a health-care provider.

Men can also develop breast cancer. A breast lump or change in a male breast needs to be checked out by a health-care provider right away.