The warning signs of breast cancer and when to be screened

Early detection leads to easier treatments.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is one of the most common cancers for women in the U.S. regardless of race or ethnicity. Regular breast self-exams, along with knowing the early warning signs of breast cancer, are key to early detection. Some things to look out for include:

  • A new lump in the breast or underarm
  • Any changes in breast shape or size, pain in the breast or nipple discharge.

If you notice any of these changes, it is important to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP) or OB-GYN as soon as possible. Your doctor will order appropriate testing.

A breast cancer screening checks a woman’s breast for cancer. Although breast cancer screenings cannot prevent breast cancer, they can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Without symptoms, your doctor will recommend the best time and frequency to start regular breast screenings. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a screening mammography, with or without clinical breast examination, every 1 to 2 years for women age 40 years and older.

Talk to your doctor about which breast-screening tests are right for you and when you should have them. Download our preventive care checklist for women to stay on top of all of your preventive care exams including breast screenings.

TIP: The best defense against breast cancer is getting and staying healthy. You may not be able to control risk factors like having a family history of breast cancer, but you can control your behaviors and lifestyle to make a difference. According to the CDC, you can help reduce your risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly.


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