Why screen for breast cancer?

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States after skin cancer. Fortunately, detecting breast cancer early through screenings can help improve outcomes and quality of life. In fact, when breast cancer is detected early and is in a localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 99%. Of note, most of these women will live much longer than 5 years past their diagnosis.

What is breast cancer screening?

Breast cancer screenings are recommended for individuals who are currently not exhibiting signs of cancer. They are not meant to prevent breast cancer, but to look for it early on and help increase survival rates.

Screening guidelines

GenesisCare physicians follow the American Society of Breast Surgeons recommendations for breast cancer screening:

  • Women 25 and younger should undergo a formal breast cancer risk assessment
  • Women with average risk of developing breast cancer should begin annual screening mammograms at age 40
  • Women at high risk of developing breast cancer should have yearly mammograms, as well as additional imaging based on their individual risk factors

Women considered to be at high risk of developing breast cancer include those who have a strong family history or heritable genetic mutation (i.e., BRCA 1 or 2), or who had radiation to the chest wall between the ages of 10 and 30 years old.

Talk to your provider about your individual situation and when you should begin breast cancer screenings.

Types of screening

Breast screening tests may include mammograms, ultrasounds or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The type of breast cancer screening and combination of tests recommended for you will depend upon your individual situation and risk factors. In addition to yearly screening mammograms, some women also choose to perform self breast examinations to help detect palpable breast cancers.


Your health care provider will discuss your results after your screening test. If your mammogram shows any abnormalities, you may be requested to do additional tests, such as a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. In the event there is concern for a breast cancer, you may likely undergo a biopsy.

If there are no abnormalities found in your screening tests, it is important to remain aware of changes in your breast between mammograms and talk to your doctor about any concerns.

Should you be diagnosed with breast cancer, talk to your care team about your treatment options. Treatment will vary depending upon your type, location, stage and biologic makeup of the cancer.

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