Screening tests are used to find breast cancer before it causes any warning signs or symptoms. Screening tests can find breast cancer early, when the chances of survival are highest.
Regular screening tests (along with follow-up tests and treatment if diagnosed) reduce your chance of dying from breast cancer.
This section discusses standard breast cancer screening tests and breast cancer screening recommendations.
Breast cancer screening tests include mammography and clinical breast exam. For some women at higher than average risk of breast cancer, breast MRI may also be used.
Clinical breast exam
Breast cancer screening is important for all women. If you're at higher than average risk of breast cancer, you may need to be screened earlier and more often than women at average risk.
Breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk
Breast cancer screening recommendations for women at higher than average risk
Breast cancer screening is not recommended for most men. It's only recommended for some men at higher than average risk due to an inherited gene mutation or a strong family history of breast cancer.
Breast cancer screening recommendations for men at higher than average risk
If screening finds something abnormal, it’s important to get follow-up without delay. That way, if you have breast cancer, it can be treated as soon as possible.
Follow-up after an abnormal finding on a screening test may include a diagnostic mammogram, breast MRI and/or breast ultrasound.
Follow-up after an abnormal finding on a clinical breast exam
Follow-up after an abnormal finding on a mammogram
Breast cancer diagnosis
The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. The most common signs include a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge.
Warning signs of breast cancer
If you feel a lump in your breast, try not to panic or worry. Most lumps are not breast cancer. However, if you find a lump (or notice any change in your breast or underarm area), see a doctor to be sure.
What to do if you find a lump
Most insurance companies cover the cost of mammograms. Low-cost and free mammograms are offered through national and local programs.
Low-cost or free mammograms
Research Fast Facts
Facts for Life: Breast Cancer Screening and Follow-up Tests