Learn how our breast cancer nurse navigators help support our patients.
Breast Cancer Screening and Early Detection
Beginning in your 20s, you should be aware of how your breasts normally look and feel, and report any changes to your doctor. Learn more about how and when the American Cancer Society recommends that you perform breast self-exams. However, your self-exams should not replace regular screenings by your doctor, as it's always best to identify breast cancer at the earliest possible stage.
Dr. Irene Lo, General Surgeon, shares her first mammogram experience at John Muir Health.
Clinical Breast Exam – As part of your regular physical exam, our physicians will perform a breast examination and check for enlarged lymph nodes, particularly in the underarm area and above the collarbone. Consistent with American Cancer Society guidelines, we recommend women in their 20s and 30s undergo a clinical breast exam every three years. We advise women 40 and older to have annual clinical breast exams.
Digital Mammography – Since its inception 35 years ago, we use this technologically advanced, low radiation X-ray test to identify any abnormalities in your breast tissue. For routine screenings, we recommend having annual mammograms at 40, or earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.
3-D Mammography – A breakthrough in breast cancer detection, 3D digital images can spot cancers not seen by regular 2D. Learn more
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – If you are identified as high-risk, we often use MRI , which can be very effective for early detection of breast cancer. We have a number of ways of identifying if you are at high-risk, including genetic testing and an evaluation of your family and clinical treatment history.
Screening Breast Ultrasound – If you're one of the more than 40% of women with very dense breast tissue, we may recommend this special screening, in addition to your standard mammogram, to help us find small cancers that a mammography might miss. This is not a replacement for screening mammography alone. Our goal is to find cancers earlier when they are smaller and easier to treat.
Genetic Counseling & Testing – If someone in your family was diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, or you have had at least two family members with either 1) breast and ovarian cancer or 2) the same kind of any cancer, you should speak with your doctor about our genetic counseling and testing program.
A genetic counselor will get your detailed family history and, if appropriate, may recommend a genetic blood test to find out if you are at a higher risk for developing hereditary breast cancer, which accounts for 5-10% of all breast cancers. If you are, we will discuss risk prevention options to minimize your chances of getting breast cancer.
High Risk Cancer Program – If you are identified as a high-risk patient for developing cancer, we will work with you closely on your screening plan, risk assessment, risk reduction, monitoring, education, and resources.
How To Schedule a Breast Screening
Schedule a breast screening at any of our imaging locations by calling our centralized scheduling center:
All breast screens require a doctor's order.
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