Risk Factors & Screening
Breast Cancer Signs and Risk Factors
It is important to understand common warning signs and risk factors for breast cancer. Warning signs of breast cancer may include:
- A lump or thickening in or near the beast or in the underarm.
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- Nipple discharge or tenderness, or the nipple is pulled back or inverted into the breast.
- A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, red or inflamed).
- Ridges or pitting of the breast; the skin looks like the skin of an orange.
Source: National Cancer Institute
Some risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Family history or personal history of breast cancer.
- Using hormone therapy after menopause.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Lack of exercise.
- Use of alcohol.
- Not having children or having them later in life.
- Recent use of birth control pills.
Source: American Cancer Society
Starting in their 20s, women should become familiar with the shape and look of their breasts. Do the following exercises at home regularly to look for any changes that should be discussed with a physician.
Standing in front of mirror:
- Hold arms at your side.
- Hold arms over head.
- Press your hands on your hips and tighten your chest muscles.
- Bend forward with your hands on your hips.
Talk to your physician if you notice a lump, swelling, dimpling, discoloration, pain or anything else that doesn't seem normal.
Having Your Mammogram
Starting at age 40, the American Cancer Society recommends you receive mammograms every year. Women under age 40 with a family history of breast cancer or other concerns should talk with their healthcare provider.
Learn more about the mammography team in Carle Breast Imaging »
When it's time for your mammogram, contact your primary care physician for a referral to Breast Imaging at Mills Breast Cancer Institute.
CHAMPAIGN — Two local doctors are urging women to continue getting annual mammograms, after a large and long-running Canadian study has launched a new controversy about the value of the annual breast cancer screening.
Tips for Your Test
- On the day of your mammogram, do not use any deodorant, lotion, cream or powder on your underarms or breasts.
- Try to schedule your mammogram for the week after your period ends.
- Before the mammogram, tell the breast imaging staff if you have any problems with your breasts.
- Consider taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen before your mammogram.