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Breast Screening FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Click each question below for its answer:

What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a breast x-ray that can detect a tumor as small as the head of a pin. Mammograms at St. Luke’s 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 specially trained nurses.
What is breast self-examination?
A breast self-exam involves checking your breasts for lumps or changes. Many breast problems are first discovered by women themselves, often by accident. Breast lumps can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

Learn more about breast self-examination
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:

  • Regular 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
Is the High Risk Breast Clinic right for me?
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)
When should a woman stop getting mammograms?
According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms should be continued regardless of your age, as long as you don’t have serious, chronic health problems such as congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and moderate to severe dementia.

Age alone should not be the reason to stop having regular mammograms. If you have serious health problems or a short life expectancy, talk to your doctor about whether to continue having mammograms.

Need to schedule a mammogram?

We have convenient locations across the region.

Schedule your appointment today