A Three-Step Plan for Preventive Care

Step 1: Physician Breast Exam

Every year, women ages 40 and up should have a physician exam to check their breasts. Women ages 20 to 39 should get an exam every three years. Women with a personal or family history of breast cancer should get more frequent exams because they are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer.

Step 2: Breast Self-Exam

A monthly breast self-exam allows you to get to know your breasts better, which will help you notice if something isn’t quite right. This quick self-exam takes about five minutes and should be done by every woman age 20 and up.

Not sure where to start? Ask your doctor to show you how to perform a self-exam so you recognize how to feel for any unusual lumps and changes in your breasts. You can also watch our step-by-step breast self-exam video.

Step 3: Mammography

Annual mammograms can help detect cancer in its earliest stage, which helps save lives. A mammogram can detect a tumor as tiny as a pinhead up to two years before it grows to a size that you or your doctor can feel.

Your first mammogram is often considered the “baseline” mammogram—the one used to compare future mammograms to help identify changes in your breast tissue.