Early Detection

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better. Learn more about how to be proactive about your risk of breast cancer, as well as prevention and early detection.

Between 20 and 39 Years Old

To detect breast cancer before it occurs, national guidelines recommend:

Clinical breast exam
Every one to three years. A trained health care provider will feel your breasts and underarms for any unusual changes or lumps while you are lying down. They will also ask you to sit upright to view any possible abnormalities. This is often done in conjunction with a routine gynecological exam.
Breast awareness
Be aware of your breasts and note any changes to your health care provider. Regular breast self-exams, which include both looking at and feeling your breasts, may help to detect any abnormalities.

40 or Older

To detect breast cancer before it occurs, national guidelines recommend:

Clinical breast exam
Every one to three years. A trained health care provider will feel your breasts and underarms for any unusual changes or lumps while you are lying down. They will also ask you to sit upright to view any possible abnormalities. This is often done in conjunction with a routine gynecological exam.
Breast awareness
Be aware of your breasts and note any changes to your health care provider. Regular breast self-exams, which include both looking at and feeling your breasts, may help to detect any abnormalities.
Mammogram
Yearly. Mammograms use X-rays to create images of your breasts. The entire process takes about 15 minutes, and two images of each breast are taken. The procedure might be uncomfortable, and you might consider taking a pain reliever before the process begins. Abnormalities found on screening mammograms are usually non-cancerous.
MRI or ultrasound
For dense breasts. MRI uses magnetic fields to create a breast image. You will have an IV placed in your arm and a contrast dye will be put through the IV. You will lie face down on a padded table with hollowed-out depressions for your breasts. The table will then be placed inside a machine that will create magnetic waves around you, which you cannot feel. If an ultrasound is ordered, sound waves will be used to create images of your breasts.

Previous Radiation to Chest, and 25 or Older

To detect breast cancer before it occurs, national guidelines recommend:

8 to 10 Years after Radiation

Beginning 8 to 10 years after your chest radiation, or at age 25, whichever occurs last:

Clinical breast exam
Every 6 to 12 months. A trained health care provider will feel your breasts and underarms for any unusual changes or lumps while you are lying down. They will also ask you to sit upright to view any possible abnormalities. This is often done in conjunction with a routine gynecological exam.
Mammogram
Yearly. Mammograms use X-rays to create images of your breasts. The entire process takes about 15 minutes, and two images of each breast are taken. The procedure might be uncomfortable, and you might consider taking a pain reliever before the process begins. Abnormalities found on screening mammograms are usually non-cancerous.
MRI
Annually. MRI uses magnetic fields to create a breast image. You will have an IV placed in your arm and a contrast dye will be put through the IV. You will lie face down on a padded table with hollowed-out depressions for your breasts. The table will then be placed inside a machine that will create magnetic waves around you, which you cannot feel.
Breast awareness
Be aware of your breasts and note any changes to your health care provider. Regular breast self-exams, which include both looking at and feeling your breasts, may help to detect any abnormalities.