Getting screened for breast cancer



One in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer during her life, according to 2012-2014 data.1 Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in New York City: Nearly 6,000 women are diagnosed and more than 1,000 die each year.2 Early detection can help prevent breast cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.


Know the risk

To help prevent breast cancer, know your risk factors and talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Breast cancer risk increases if you:

  • Are a woman (men also get breast cancer, but it is rare)
  • Are older (the older you get, the higher your risk)
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Are obese
  • Drink alcohol (even a small amount can increase your risk)
  • Take estrogen-progesterone hormone replacement therapy during menopause
  • Take certain birth control pills
  • Had breast cancer before or have a family history of breast cancer
  • Have a rare gene mutation for breast cancer, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2
  • Began menstruation early (before age 12) or menopause late (after age 55)

People with risk factors will not necessarily get breast cancer and people without risk factors can still get it. We don’t always know why some people get breast cancer and why some do not, but regular screenings can help doctors find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat.


Get screened

The most common way to screen for breast cancer is a mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of your breast. Mammograms can spot breast cancer before you can feel lumps in your breast or have any other signs or symptoms.


If you are 40 or older, ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening and when to start screening. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 40.


The New York City Health Department does not recommend screening by breast self-exam, which is looking at and feeling your own breast for lumps or changes.


Find a mammogram site

If you don’t have a doctor or need to find a free or low-cost mammogram site, call 311 or go to the City’s Mammogram Program online to find a screening site near you.


If you live in NYC, are 40 or older and have not had a mammogram in the past year, you can also get a no-cost mammogram at the American-Italian Cancer Foundation’s Mobile Care Clinic. They provide services to all New Yorkers.



1 Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer. National Cancer Institute website.

2 Cancer Incidence and Mortality for New York City, 2010-2014. New York State Department of Health.