Mammograms can help find breast cancer early. You have a better chance of surviving breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
- Women ages 40 to 49: Talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often you need them.
- Women ages 50 to 74: Get mammograms every 2 years. Talk with your doctor to decide if you need them more often.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms use a very low level of x‑rays, which are a type of radiation. A mammogram is very safe.
When you get mammograms, the nurse will place your breasts, one at a time, between 2 plastic plates and take pictures of them. Mammograms may be uncomfortable for some women, but they don’t hurt.
It takes only about 20 minutes to get mammograms.
What if the doctor finds something wrong with my breast?
Mammograms let the doctor or nurse look for small lumps inside your breast. If a lump is found, the doctor or nurse will do other tests to find out if it’s cancer.
The doctor or nurse may take a small bit of tissue from the lump for testing. This is called a biopsy (“BY-op-see”).
What is breast cancer?
Abnormal cells in the breast can turn into cancer. Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some time during her life. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women. The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
Talk with your doctor or nurse if you notice any of these changes:
- A lump in the breast
- A change in size, shape, or feel of the breast
- Fluid (called discharge) coming out of a nipple
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