A risk factor indicates the likelihood that you will develop a condition or disease.
This can vary patient-to-patient and not all individuals will have every risk factor commonly associated with breast cancer. Some of the common risk factors include:
Genetic mutations including BRCA1 and BRCA2
Family history of breast cancer
Race and ethnicity
Prior breast cancer
Dense breast tissue
Starting a menstrual cycle at a young age
Beginning menopause after 55
Radiation to your chest
Lifestyle factors including diet and lack of exercise
What to do if I am at high-risk of developing breast cancer?
If you meet several at-risk criteria, it is best to stay informed and meet with your provider annually for breast cancer screening and prevention.
Women who are high-risk and have a family history of breast cancer, are often referred to a genetic counselor.
A genetic counselor can map your family history and provide valuable information that leads to recommendations such as closely monitoring your health or having preventive surgery.
Alternatively, women ages 40 and older should receive a screening mammogram annually. If you are younger than 40 and at high-risk, your provider may recommend you begin screening sooner.
Preparing for Your Mammogram
It is best to schedule your mammogram for seven to 10 days after menstruation begins. Bring your previous mammogram films or ask that they be sent to your Breast Care Center so they can be compared to the new images.
Your tech will be with you the entire team, guiding you through the diagnostic screening. There is minimal discomfort during the exam and on average each exam takes 20 minutes.
On the day of your mammogram, do not wear deodorant or powder on your breasts or in the underarm area. Such substances can cause artifacts on the image, making it necessary to repeat the mammogram.
Also be prepared to discuss with your tech any changes you have noticed to your breasts or abnormalities that are concerning.
After the Mammogram
A radiologist will read your mammogram and provide you with a summary of the results. Depending on your results, you may need additional diagnostic testing or a biopsy to further identify what was found on your screening mammogram.
Your results will also detail the density of your breasts and whether you need supplemental screening.
Annual Screening and Self-checks
If eligible, you should receive a screening mammogram annually. Regardless of your age, women are highly encouraged to perform monthly breast self-checks.
The more familiar you are with your breast tissue, the quicker you can identify a change or abnormality. The Nevada Cancer Coalition has a simple breast self-awareness tool, which can help you identify breast abnormalities prior to any breast cancer screening.
Scheduling Your Annual Mammogram
Most insurance plans cover annual mammogram screening at no cost to the patient. For patients who are underinsured or uninsured, Nevada offers various resources to help women access care.
To schedule your mammogram at Northern Nevada’s Breast Care Center, call 775-356-5800. A physician’s order is not required for a screening mammogram, but the Center must have the name of a physician who will review the results.
Have you received your annual breast cancer screening and mammogram check this year?
Northern Nevada Health System is a regional network of care that has elevated and improved access to healthcare for 40 years. The System operates two acute care hospitals located in Sparks and Reno, 24/7 freestanding emergency departments, a Medical Group which offers family and internal medicine, urgent care and specialty care, and Quail Surgical and Pain Management. NNHS is committed to maintaining and improving the well-being of the community and is known for top-rated patient satisfaction, in addition to providing quality care and a safe environment for patients to heal. To learn more, visit northernnevadahealth.com.