Breast Screening FAQs

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a breast x-ray that can detect a tumor as small as the head of a pin. Our mammograms are performed by a certified mammography technologist using state-of-the-art digital equipment, which assures you the highest quality exam with the lowest radiation dose.

What is a clinical breast exam?

A clinical breast exam includes visual and palpable (touch) examination of your breasts and surrounding tissues. These exams are conducted by nurses specially trained in this area.

What is breast self-examination?

Performed on a monthly basis, breast self-examination is a way for a woman to thoroughly, systematically, check her breasts for signs of cancer, both visually and palpably (by touch). Breast self-exam provides women with the opportunity to be an active participant in their own breast health care.

Do I need a mammogram?

You may be asking yourself: How often should I get a mammogram? At what age should I start? Reliable experts offer differing opinions on screening mammography, but one thing is certain: breast cancer risk should not be ignored. One out of every seven women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and early detection is key to survival.

Please discuss your breast cancer risk with your primary care provider, who will recommend a screening plan that’s right for you. St. Luke’s Breast Care Services offers the following guidelines for the general population, set forth by the American Cancer Society:

  • Monthly breast self-examination beginning at age 20
  • Clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20 and annually after age 40
  • Annual mammograms starting at age 40

Our High Risk Breast Clinic offers resources to women at higher risk for breast cancer. Factors that may indicate a higher risk include:

  • A family member diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50
  • Multiple family members diagnosed with breast, ovarian, prostate, or pancreatic cancer
  • Atypical cells detected during a biopsy of the breast
  • A male relative with breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • A positive test for a known breast cancer mutation such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 (in self or family member)


  • Breast Care Services