Risk Assessment & Early Detection

Understanding your personal risk for developing breast cancer enables you to be an active participant in your breast care. Utilizing methods that promote early detection, such as breast self-exam and mammography, increase your chances of having positive outcomes if diagnosed with breast disease – the earlier you identify changes, the better.

Risk Assessment

Knowing your breast cancer risk allows you to work together with your doctor to develop and implement a plan of care designed specifically for you. Risk assessment methods are available to help determine your individual risk of developing breast cancer. The link below will take you to a risk calculator that will ask questions about known risk factors for breast cancer, including questions about family history, age, reproductive history and known genetic mutations.

Calculate your Breast Cancer Risk

Breast Self-Exam

Breast Exam

It is important that you become familiar with your breast size, shape, color and feel so that you know what is normal for you. For your greatest awareness, we recommend that you perform a monthly breast self-exam. A self-exam is a controlled and convenient way to stay in-tune with your breasts and to track any changes that may develop overtime. You are encouraged to keep a log of your self-exams and to write down any questions that you may have for your next doctor’s appointment.

When should I  perform a breast self-exam?

The best time to examine your breasts is a few days after your menstrual cycle when your breasts are less apt to be tender or swollen.

How do I perform a breast self-exam?

  • Begin your self-breast exam by either lying down or standing up
  • Raise your right arm and tuck your hand behind your head
  • Using the pads of your fingers on your left hand, hold your fingers together and press in a circular motion on your right breast without lifting your fingers off of your skin
    • Be sure to feel for changes, like lumps or thickening, throughout all of your breast tissue from the surface through the depth of your breasts
      • Use light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath
      • Use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts
      • Use firm pressure for the deep tissue
  • Follow an up and down pattern to cover the entire breast from top to bottom and side to side
    • Be sure to cover the breadth of area from your collarbone to the underneath of your breast, and from your armpit to the center of your chest
  • Repeat all steps for your left breast
  • Lastly, stand in front of a mirror and check visually for any changes – dimpling, swelling, nipple changes or leakage, or redness of the skin
It is important to note that self-exams do not take the place of clinical breast exams or screening mammograms, which are both done by your doctor.

If you are 20-39 years of age, you should have a clinical breast exam at least once every three years.

If you are 40 years of age or older, you should have a clinical breast exam every year as well as a yearly mammogram.

Mammogram Guidelines

Our understanding of the safest and most effective way to screen women for breast cancer is continuously evolving. Below is a link to the current American Cancer Society guidelines for mammography screening.

American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines