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How To Get Screened For Breast Cancer

Am I At Risk For Breast Cancer

Nurses Affecting Change Program helps women get free breast cancer screenings

Anyone can get breast cancer, but there are some things that can increase your risk, including

  • being a cisgender woman

  • inherited mutations to genes that are related to breast cancer

  • being more than 50 years old

  • a blood relative who has had breast or ovarian cancer

Having 1 or more risk factors does not mean youll definitely get breast cancer. And some people will get breast cancer without having any of these risks.

Many risk factors are out of your control, but there are some things you can do to help lower your chances of getting the disease. Talk with your doctor or nurse about breast cancer screenings and what you can do to stay healthy.

Lgbtq2s+ And Breast Cancer Screening

Peer-reviewed evidence on cancer screening for the LGBTQ2S+ community is evolving and the program is committed to enacting evidence-informed actions to better serve all Albertans. We will update this section on a regular basis in partnership with our LGBTQ2S+ stakeholders input.

Should transgender and gender diverse people get regular breast/chest cancer screening with mammography?

Before getting a mammogram, all individuals are recommended to speak with their healthcare provider about screening. Please consider seeing your healthcare provider to assess your breast/chest cancer risk level and discuss whether breast/chest cancer screening is right for you. In general, you should get regular breast/chest cancer screening if you are age 50 to 74 years and:

1. Assigned female at birth and have not undergone top surgery, or

2. Assigned male at birth and have been on feminizing hormone therapy for 5 or more years in total.

I am transgender and was assigned female at birth, do I need breast/chest cancer screening with mammography?

You should see your healthcare provider to assess your breast/chest cancer risk level. If you are considered to be at average risk, regular breast/chest cancer screening is recommended. The risk level assessment consider your age, family history, and if you have breast/chest tissue.

Talk to your healthcare provider about how to best monitor your breast/chest health.

I am on testosterone, do I need breast/chest cancer screening with mammography?

What Are Screening Tests

The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms . Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who dont have any symptoms. Early detection means finding and diagnosing a disease earlier than if youd waited for symptoms to start.

Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis of a woman with this disease.

Read Also: Why Do Breast Cancer Patients Lose Their Nipples

For Women Who Have Had Mantle Radiation:

  • a clinical breast exam every six months beginning at the time of your radiation treatment
  • an annual mammogram starting eight years after your radiation treatment
  • possible annual breast MRI

All women at above-average breast cancer risk should speak with their doctor about additional screening tests, perform a monthly self breast exam, and become familiar with their breasts so they are better able to notice changes.

MSK offers a comprehensive program for women at increased breast cancer risk, including regular breast exams and imaging. It allows any developments to be identified and dealt with right away.

Questions To Ask A Doctor

Get Screened

We know that you may still have questions about starting or restarting regular cancer screening. So, weve put together some helpful questions to make it easier. Here are just a few, and you can find more by reading Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Cancer Screening.

  • What cancer screening tests are recommended for someone my age?
  • How often should I get the screening tests?
  • Where can I go to get screened?
  • How do I schedule my screening tests?
  • Will my screening tests be covered by my health insurance?
  • What will the screening tests cost if they are not covered by insurance?

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Finding A Doctor To Help You Get Screened For Cancer

If you dont have a doctor or health care provider, keep in mind that some cancer screening tests might require a doctors order. If youre told you need a doctors order or a referral from a doctor, its a good idea to find a doctor or health care provider who can order the tests you need and help you schedule them. Or, maybe you just want to find a doctor who you can see on a regular basis to help monitor your cancer risk factors and remind you about the screenings you need.

If you dont have a doctor, choosing one can be overwhelming and can take a lot of time. If you have health insurance, your insurance company likely has a list of doctors you can choose from. Some people might simply ask family and friends for names of doctors they have seen. Others might look for a doctor near their home or one they can get to easily. Some people might start by finding a hospital first, and then looking for a doctor who practices or has an office in or near that hospital. If youre not sure where to start, you might want to try calling local hospitals or your local health department. Sometimes they have medical clinics where people can go to see a doctor and get the tests they need.

Harms Of Early Detection And Treatment

Primary Screening With Conventional Mammography

Screening mammography has several potential harms. The most common is a false-positive result, which can lead to psychological harms, as well as additional testing and invasive follow-up procedures. Studies show a fairly consistent association between a false-positive screening mammogram and increased breast cancerspecific distress, anxiety, and apprehension, particularly in women who have an associated procedure, such as fine-needle aspiration or breast biopsy. These effects improve over time for most women.2, 4Table 5summarizes BCSC data on the cumulative probability of a woman receiving at least 1 false-positive mammogram or a recommendation for what turns out to be a false-positive biopsy over a 10-year period.39

Primary Screening With DBT

Currently, DBT is most frequently performed in combination with conventional digital mammography this practice essentially doubles the resulting radiation exposure to the patient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a method to generate synthetic reconstructions of 2-dimensional images from 3-dimensional views, which reduces the total radiation dose emitted. However, study data on the performance of DBT in isolation is limited to 1 mammography reading study that compared sensitivity and specificity and 1 prospective clinical trial,42 and the method is not yet thought to be in widespread clinical use.

Adjunctive Screening in Women With Dense Breasts

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When To Start Screening

Clinical trials, observational studies, and modeling studies all demonstrate that the likelihood of avoiding a breast cancer death with regular screening mammography increases with age, and this increase in benefit likely occurs gradually rather than abruptly at any particular age. In contrast, the harms of screening mammography either remain constant or decrease with age. For example, about the same number of breast biopsies are performed as a result of screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years as in those aged 60 to 69 years, but many more of these biopsies will result in a diagnosis of invasive cancer in the older age group. Thus, the balance of benefit and harms improves with age .

It is, however, a false dichotomy to assume that the only options are to begin screening at age 40 or to wait until age 50 years. As women advance through their 40s, the incidence of breast cancer rises. The balance of benefit and harms may also shift accordingly over this decade, such that women in the latter half of the decade likely have a more favorable balance than women in the first half. Indeed, the CISNET models suggest that most of the benefit of screening women aged 40 to 49 years would be realized by starting screening at age 45.7, 8

What To Expect With A Mammogram

Get Screened for Breast Cancer

You might have a few questions about how a mammogram is done. The process itself should only take about 10 minutes and will be done by a female technologist to help you feel comfortable and at ease.

How should I prepare for a mammogram?

On the day of your appointment you should:

  • Wear a separate top and bottom as youll have to remove clothing from the waist up.
  • Avoid wearing perfume, antiperspirant, deodorant and body powder. These can affect the mammogram results.

What happens during a mammogram?

Once youre standing in front of the mammography machine:

  • One breast at a time is positioned on the machine. The machine will be adjusted to your height.
  • A second plate will press down on your breast for a few seconds to spread out the breast tissue so that small abnormalities can be seen.
  • For a screening mammogram, 2 x-rays will be taken of each breast 1 from the top and 1 from the side. Several more x-rays are taken for diagnostic mammograms. If tomosynthesis is used, multiple x-ray images are taken to create a video-like view of each breast. Learn more about tomosynthesis under frequently asked questions.
  • These x-rays will then be looked at by a radiologist for any abnormal changes.
  • Once the exam has been reviewed by a radiologist, youll receive a result letter in the mail from the Alberta Breast Cancer Screening Program. Learn more about getting your mammogram results.
  • Does a mammogram hurt?

    Also Check: Who Is At High Risk For Breast Cancer

    What Is A Mammogram

    A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms use a very low level of x-rays, which are a type of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation is very low.

    Mammograms can be used to screen for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms. They can also help doctors figure out if cancer is causing a particular symptom like a lump or another change in the breast.

    When you get a mammogram, a technician will place your breast between 2 plastic plates and press it flat to get a clear picture. Getting a mammogram can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last long.

    The Harms Of Mammography Include The Following:

    False-positive test results can occur.

    Screening test results may appear to be abnormal even though no cancer is present. A false-positive test result is usually followed by more tests , which also have risks.

    When a breast biopsy result is abnormal, getting a second opinion from a different pathologist may confirm a correct breast cancer diagnosis.

    Most abnormal test results turn out not to be cancer. False-positive results are more common in the following:

    False-positive results are more likely the first time screening mammography is done than with later screenings. For every ten women who have a single mammogram, one will have a false-positive result. The chance of having a false-positive result goes up the more mammograms a woman has. Comparing a current mammogram with a past mammogram lowers the risk of a false-positive result.

    The skill of the radiologist also can affect the chance of a false-positive result.

    False-positive results can lead to extra testing and cause anxiety.

    If a mammogram is abnormal, more tests may be done to diagnose cancer. Women can become anxious during the diagnostic testing. Even if it is a false-positive test and cancer is not diagnosed, the result can lead to anxiety anywhere from a few days to years later.

    False-negative test results can delay diagnosis and treatment.

    Also Check: How Fast Breast Cancer Develops

    Breast Cancer Is The Second Leading Cause Of Death From Cancer In American Women

    Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except for skin cancer.

    Breast cancer is more likely to occur as a woman ages. It occurs more often in White women than in Black women, but Black women die from breast cancer more often than White women.

    Breast cancer rarely occurs in men. Because men with breast cancer usually have a lump that can be felt, screening tests are not likely to be helpful.

    What Is Breast Cancer Staging

    What You Need To Know About Getting Breast Cancer Screening

    To determine the stage of your cancer, doctors look at how large your tumor is, where it is, and if it has spread. They also look at your medical history, physical exams, diagnostic tests, and tests of your tumor and lymph nodes.

    • Early-stage breast cancer includes stages 0, I, II and IIIA .
    • In stage 0, there are abnormal cells in the ducts or lobes of the breast. They have not broken through the wall of the duct or spread.
    • In stages I, II, and IIIA, there is a tumor. It may have spread to lymph nodes under the arm, but it has not spread anywhere else.
  • Later-stage breast cancer is stages IIIB and IV . The cancer has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes under the arm.
  • Recommended Reading: What Percentage Of Breast Cancer Metastasis

    If You Are Called Back

    Around 4 out of 100 women are called back for more tests. If this happens, you might feel very worried. But many of these women wont have cancer.

    If you are called back because your mammogram showed an abnormal area, you might have a magnified mammogram. This can show up particular areas of the breasts more clearly. These mammograms show the borders of any lump or thickened area. They can also show up areas of calcium .

    You might also have an ultrasound scan of the breast or a test to take a sample of cells from the abnormal area

    Screening For People Who Are Uninsured Or Underinsured

    Cost is a major barrier to regular cancer screening for people without insurance or who have limited insurance. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is fighting for comprehensive health coverage for everyone. Until then, there are cancer screening resources available for people who are uninsured or underinsured.

    • Find a Health Center: Use this tool to find a health center near you for low-cost or free cancer screenings with no insurance required.
    • Find Breast and Cervical Screening Programs: People who are on a limited income, uninsured, and underinsured can access breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services.

    Also Check: What Type Of Breast Cancer Is Most Likely To Metastasize

    When To Get Screened

    Breast cancer was expected to be the most common cancer diagnosed in Ontario women in 2018. Screening mammography can find breast cancers when they are small, less likely to have spread and more likely to be treated successfully. Your age and family medical history help determine when you should get screened:

    • If you are age 50 to 74, the Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends that most women in your age group be screened every 2 years with mammography. Find your nearest OBSP site by calling 1-800-668-9304 or visiting Ontario Breast Screening Program locations.
    • If you are age 30 to 69 and meet any of the following requirements, talk to your doctor about referral to the High Risk Ontario Breast Screening Program:
    • You are known to have a gene mutation that increases your risk for breast cancer
    • You are a first-degree relative of someone who has a gene mutation that increases their risk for breast cancer
    • You have a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer
    • You have had radiation therapy to the chest to treat another cancer or condition before age 30 and at least 8 years ago

    For every 200 women screened in the Ontario Breast Screening Program, about 18 are referred for further tests and 1 will have breast cancer.

    People Are Encouraged To Get Screened For Breast Cancer

    Survivors Urge Women To Get Screened For Breast Cancer, Regardless Of BRCA Status

    THUNDER BAY REGIONAL HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE*********************************

    THUNDER BAY — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Prevention and Screening Clinical Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre , in partnership with Ontario Health-Cancer Care Ontario , is encouraging eligible Ontarians ages 50 to 74 years old to talk to their family doctor or nurse practitioner about getting checked for breast cancer.

    Studies have shown the pandemic has had a negative impact on breast screenings with a 41 per cent drop in cancer screening tests in Ontario in 2020 compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. Fortunately, those statistics are starting to bounce back. For example, in June 2021, monthly breast screening tests were about nine per cent above June 2019 levels.

    We have been taking all measures to stay safe during the pandemic, including staying home, but getting checked for breast cancer is still important, said Dr. Nicole Zavagnin, Regional Primary Care Lead for OH-CCO at TBRHSC. Health care providers and hospitals are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of patients and staff. We encourage you to get screened and make sure you stay up-to-date with your breast cancer screening.

    Every year, approximately 12,000 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 2,000 will die from it. Regular screening is important because it can find breast cancer early when treatment has a better chance of working.

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    Find Your Local Breastscreen Provider

    To book your free mammogram, contact your local BreastScreen provider on 13 20 50

    BreastScreen NSW has temporarily suspended all routine breast screening across the state. While clinics are closed, monitor for symptoms and contact your GP if you notice any changes.

    Keep up-to-date with developments and when clinics reopen remember to tick breast cancer screening off you to-do list.

    Breast screening saves lives. Screening is one of the most effective ways to detect early signs of breast cancer, meaning treatment outcomes are much better. Early detection is the best way to improve survival.

    During Covid-19 many things were forgotten. While there was a brief pause of the BreastScreen Australia program in April 2020, states and territories have resumed services at a reduced capacity with COVIDSafe measures in place. Your health and safety are important, so measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of transmission against the ongoing risk of COVID-19.

    So its important for women aged 50-74 to put breast screening back at the top of their to-do-list.

    If youve been sent an invitation, its time to tick breast screening off your list.


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