A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of the breast. It can be done in a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic. Medicare, Medicaid and most private health insurance will pay for mammograms.
Most women get a baseline mammogram around age 40, unless it is needed earlier due to family history or physical findings. Mammograms are most effective when they can be compared to previous ones, letting your doctor check for changes over time. Starting at age 40, women should see their doctor every year for a breast exam and mammogram. If your mother, aunt or sister has had breast cancer, you will need a mammogram earlier than the age they were diagnosed.
Generally, breast cancer has no symptoms until the cancer begins to grow. Look for changes in the breast and underarm area that may include a lump or thickening, change in size or shape of breast or nipple, dimpled or pitted skin, nipple that feels warm, swollen or scaly, discharge or unusual tenderness not related to your menstrual cycle.
Breast cancer risk factors: risk doubles after age 50, and family history of cancer in your mother, aunt or sister. Menstrual periods beginning at 12 or younger, being overweight and drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day.
To lower your risk of breast cancer: Stop smoking, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, reduce or limit estrogen (birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy), eat a healthy diet, breastfeed your infant immediately after giving birth and at least for the first six months of life.
It is important to breastfeed to improve your baby’s health and development. And, it improves your health too.
Breast milk is better than formula because: Your breast milk keeps baby healthier and less likely to get infections, allergies, diarrhea, asthma, diabetes, constipation, certain cancers, or be too fat. Breastfeeding improves brain growth and helps the face and mouth grow properly.
Breastfeeding is better for your health because mothers who breastfeed will: Have less chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer, lose weight faster, feel calm and relaxed while breastfeeding, have a special close bond with baby and making you a better parent as baby grows up.