• The ABCs of Breast Health

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and persons with breasts: one out of eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer. Although you cannot prevent it, being screened for breast cancer and following the ABCs of breast health can lower your risk.

    The ABCs of Breast Cancer

    • Annual mammogram
    • Breast awareness
    • Clinical breast exam

    The ABCs are important because you can find changes in your breasts early, find out quickly if the changes are benign or not, and increase your chances of a cure if you detect cancer.


    Mammograms are quick, easy and safe x-rays. We sometimes can see things on a mammogram that we cannot feel, making it easier to find problems early. For those of average risk, the American Cancer Society suggests that women aged 40-44 get a mammogram only if your doctor suggests it. They recommend yearly mammograms for all women starting at age 45.

    Breast Awareness

    Learn how your breasts usually look and feel. Do breast self-exams and look for lumps, thickness and other changes. If you think something is not right, see your doctor. Most breast lumps are not cancer.

    Clinical Breast Exam

    A doctor, nurse or midwife does the clinical breast exam. Women over the age of 40 should have this manual exam every year. If you are in your 20s or 30s, have an exam every three years.

    A good breast exam includes:

    • A personal health history review
    • A manual exam of the whole breast while you are standing or lying down
    • A lesson about breast health and how to examine your own breasts

    Developing breast cancer

    • Age (the older you get, the greater the risk)
    • Gender (women are more likely to get breast cancer, but men can get it, too)
    • You or a close family member (mother or sister) had breast cancer
    • You started your period early in life
    • You went into menopause late
    • You had your first child after the age of thirty

    Preventing breast cancer

    • Keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
    • Limiting alcohol and not smoking
    • Breastfeeding your babies
    • Guidelines for a healthy diet:
      • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins;
      • avoid high fat foods;
      • increase your fiber;
      • limit processed foods;
      • replace white flour, bread and pasta with whole grain

    Finding a mammogram testing facility

    Call 866.442.CANCER (2262) for breast cancer screening locations in your area. Mammograms are provided in certified healthcare settings everywhere in New York State. Or visit Affinityplan.org.