Breast cancer screening saves lives


women smiling

Taking care of your health is the best thing you can do for yourself every day! Schedule your yearly checkup with your doctor and any health screenings you need. One important health screening for women is for breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. Cancer starts when abnormal cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. While breast cancer usually affects women, men can get breast cancer too. Early detection is key for treatment.

Tip: Phrases to know

A screening is a test or examination used to find a disease in people who don’t have any symptoms. A breast cancer screening looks for any signs of cancer before any symptoms appear (such as a lump in the breast).

Early detection means finding and diagnosing a disease earlier than if you had waited for symptoms to start.

Why is breast cancer screening important?

Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why having a regular breast cancer screening once a year with your doctor is so important. Mammograms are a common way to screen for breast cancer. It is when an X-ray is taken of the breasts. Alliance members can get a mammogram at no cost as part of their preventative health care visits.  

If you need help finding a doctor, call Member Services at 800-700-3874, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you need language assistance, we have a special telephone line to get an interpreter who speaks your language at no cost to you. For the Hearing or Speech Assistance Line, call 800-735-2929 (TTY: Dial 711).

woman getting mammogram

How can women lower their risk of breast cancer?

Lifestyle and genetics are the two factors that most affect a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. Examples of lifestyles changes that help decrease risk for breast cancer are:

  • Keeping a healthy weight.
  • Being physically active. This can be as simple as taking a daily walk.
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol.

Although you can’t change your genes, you can get screening if you are at a higher risk. Always tell your doctor about any family members who have had cancer of any type.

Who should get a breast cancer screening?

  • Women between 40 and 44 may start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older may switch to a mammogram every other year.

Women who are at a high risk for breast cancer should start screenings at age 30. If you have any questions about when you should have breast cancer screenings, ask your doctor.

You know your body best! If anything seems wrong or you have a concern, make sure to tell your doctor. 

How can I learn more about breast cancer screenings?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Cancer Society websites have more details on breast cancer and screenings.


Did you find this information helpful?

About the contributor:

Kristin Rath

Kristin Rath is a Communications Content Specialist at Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance). She works with the health plan’s experts to write on a wide range of health care and wellness topics, including checkups, vaccines, behavioral health and food security. Kristin has been with the Alliance since 2019. She holds Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees in communications.