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Breast Cancer FAQs

Breast Cancer in Maryland

In October, 2008 more than 3,670 women in Maryland will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 830 will die from the disease. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, excluding basal and squamous cell skin cancers.

Research shows that deaths from breast cancer could be reduced by at least 30% if all women followed recommended breast cancer screening guidelines. To-date in Maryland, only 57% of women aged 40 and older have had a clinical breast exam and mammogram in the past year.

What can I do?
Every woman aged 40 and over should have an annual clinical breast exam by their health care provider, and a mammogram. If you have not done so, schedule an appointment with your health care provider.

If you are a woman who has had your annual breast screening, reach out to other women in your circle of family, friends and co-workers to encourage others to do the same. Let them know how important this annual screening is.

If you are a man, encourage the women in your life to get screened.

Am I at risk for breast cancer ?
Simply being a woman and getting older puts you at risk for breast cancer. The older you are, the greater your chances of getting breast cancer. Also, you are at higher risk if your mother, sister, daughter has had breast cancer.

How do I get screened for breast cancer?
There are two screening tests: a mammogram and a clinical breast exam. You need to have BOTH tests. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast. A mammogram does not cause cancer. Because the amount of radiation used is very low, the risk of any harm is extremely small. A clinical breast exam is performed by your doctor and can find breast cancer at an early stage when it can best be treated.

How often should I get screened?
Women need a mammogram and clinical breast exam every 1 to 2 years after the age of 40.

What happens during a mammogram?
A mammogram is a simple test. When you go for a mammogram, the technician taking the picture will place your breast between two X-ray panels. The panels will push your breast between them to get a clear picture. You may feel a little bit of discomfort but each X-ray takes less than 1 minute.

Why should I get a mammogram?
Mammograms can save your life by finding breast cancer early. A mammogram can show cancer that is too small for your doctor to feel. When breast cancer is found early, you have more treatment options.

How will I pay for these important screenings?
Check with your health insurance plan about costs and co-payments. If you are a Maryland woman aged 40 to 64 and do not have health insurance that covers the screenings, call 1-800-477-9774 to find out if you are eligible for breast cancer screenings, at no cost to you. If you live in Prince George’s County, call the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at 301-883-3525.