One in eight women will face breast cancer in her lifetime. However, breast cancer screenings can help improve the chances that breast cancer will be detected early and treated successfully.
We encourage you to perform a breast self-exam once a month at the same time each month. Breast self-exams help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel, so you will be able to detect changes.
Clinical breast exams
A clinical breast exam is a screening performed by a healthcare professional as part of your yearly well-woman visit. During the clinical exam, your provider carefully checks your breasts for changes or abnormalities.
American Society of Breast Imaging and American College of Radiology recommend women have annual mammograms starting at age 40. Freeman utilizes digital mammography– the gold standard for breast cancer screening. Digital mammography uses compression and x-rays to examine a breast and capture a digital image on a computer. Digital mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so it’s important to get a mammogram in addition to breast self-exams and clinical breast exams.
Schedule your mammogram
We offer screening mammography at convenient locations in both Joplin and Neosho. To schedule an appointment, call 417.347.7777.
Preventing Breast Cancer
Although you cannot prevent cancer, you can take steps to reduce your risk:
- Stay physically active
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Don’t smoke
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy weight
Early detection is the best protection
The gold standard for breast cancer screening is mammography. The American Cancer Society recommends women over age 40 have a mammogram every year. If you have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with breast cancer, then you should start screening mammograms 10 years prior to the age she was diagnosed (but not before age 25).
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. Not all risk factors are created equal, and having a risk factor does not mean that you will get breast cancer. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older.
- Sex. Women are far more likely to get breast cancer than men, although men can get breast cancer, as well.
- Age. The risk for breast cancer increases with age; most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
- Early menstrual period. Women who start their periods before age 12 are exposed to hormones longer, raising the risk for breast cancer by a small amount.
- Late or no pregnancy. Having the first pregnancy after age 30 and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
- Starting menopause after age 55. Like starting one’s period early, being exposed to estrogen hormones for a longer time later in life also raises the risk of breast cancer.
- Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Being overweight after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Having dense breasts. Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram. Women with dense breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.
- Taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Certain forms of oral contraceptive pills have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Personal history of breast cancer. Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time.
- Personal history of certain non-cancerous breast diseases. Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are associated with a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Family history of breast cancer. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast cancer. Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk.
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts (like for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Because breast cancer can present in many ways, and every woman's breasts are different, patients should look for anything new or changing in the breast. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Mass or lump felt in the breast
- Change in the color or texture of the skin on the breast
- Dimpling anywhere on the breast
- Changes in the nipple, for example, becoming inverted or developing a red scaly patches on the nipple or areola
- Discharge from the nipple when not breast feeding
What should I do if I find a lump?
Most often, it is not breast cancer, but if you notice anything new or changing in your breast, let your healthcare provider know as soon as possible. To schedule a mammogram, call 417.347.7777.
Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO)
Free screening mammograms are provided to uninsured and underinsured women who meet BCFO’s financial criteria. This program covers screening mammograms only. You can pick up an application packet at Wes & Jan Houser Women’s Pavilion front desk or contact:
Show Me Healthy Women
Show Me Healthy Women (SMHW) offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings for Missouri women who meet age, income and insurance guidelines.
Helping Friends Mammogram Fund
Nearly 9,000 women in our community will go without a mammogram this year because of limited financial resources. You probably know some of these women — your friends, your neighbors or perhaps your relatives.
Through Helping Friends Mammogram Fund, we partner with generous people like you to provide mammograms to those women who, without our help, would not receive them. Make a donation today.