Breast cancer screening

Most women feel some anxiety about changes in their breasts. Lumps, changes in breast tissue, breast pain and nipple discharge are just a few of the more common causes of worry. But remember: Most breast changes are not cancer.

Whether you need to schedule routine care, or are worried that something is wrong with your breast, we are here to help.

Frequently asked questions

What is Salem Health Cancer Institute’s position on the newest breast cancer screening recommendations? 

Salem Health Cancer Institute's Breast Committee believes that screening schedules are a decision that a doctor and patient should make together. To read their detailed opinion, download their Shared Decision Making for Breast Cancer Screening announcement.

When should I get my first mammogram?

Salem Health physicians and the Salem Health Breast Committee recommend routine annual mammography screening for all women beginning at age 40.

While it is true that breast cancer is less common in women under 50, we feel that the years of life that can potentially be saved outweigh the downsides of testing younger women.

I'm 80 years old and have had normal mammograms every year. Do I still need to continue with yearly mammograms?

There is a wealth of data indicating that breast cancer risk rises steeply with age, and that the efficiency of screening increases as well. So it makes sense that screening would be a wise choice, even at an advanced age. We encourage you to talk with your primary care doctor to determine what is best for you based on your overall health.

How can I decrease my anxiety about changes in my breasts?

It is helpful to become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breast. We encourage you to become educated on normal breast anatomy and subtle changes that shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

Breast self-exam may be useful for high-risk women and those who are motivated to be proactive in their health. By examining your breasts with a thorough technique regularly you will be more self-confident and have less anxiety about bringing a concern to your doctor.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a yearly mammogram for me?

Coverage of mammograms for breast cancer screening is mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which provides that these be given without a co-pay or deductible in plans that started after Aug. 1, 2012. If you aren’t sure about your coverage, call your insurance company.

Should I still see my provider each year for a clinical breast exam? If so, should it be done before my mammogram or after?

We recommend that an annual clinical breast exam be performed by your health care provider before the mammogram. If your provider finds something abnormal, it can be documented and compared with the mammogram findings.

This is also an excellent opportunity for you to learn about normal breast findings and self-examination techniques, and ask any questions you might have about breast health.

Schedule your mammogram


Salem Health Cancer Institute


Breast cancer resources and support