Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer that women may face. The best defense is to find it early and treat it while it is small.
Regular breast self-exams, along with clinical breast exams by a health care provider and regular mammograms, are the best ways to find breast cancer early.
Women should perform breast self-exam once a month. Look for any changes such as new or enlarged lumps; puckering, redness, or scaliness of the skin or nipple area; and any discharge. While many changes are benign (not cancerous), only a health care provider can make that determination. Report any changes you notice to your health care provider as soon as possible.
Talk to your health care provider about regular clinical breast exams and mammograms. Many women begin these annual breast cancer screening tests at age 40. Your health care provider may want you to start screening earlier or get screened more frequently if you have risk factors for breast cancer.
Most women who have private health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare have coverage for regular breast cancer screening. If you do not have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover breast exams and mammograms, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program at the Carroll County Health Department can help. This program provides screening at no cost to eligible women.
The program can also help with:
- Paying co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance.
- Scheduling appointments.
- Finding transportation to appointments.
- Language interpretation services.
- Making any needed follow-up appointments.
Call 410-876-4423, Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., for more information and to see if you are eligible. You can also visit our website at cchd.maryland.gov/health-services-bccp.
The American Cancer Society recommends these steps to help a woman lower her risk of breast cancer:
- Quit smoking. Call the Carroll County Health Department at 410-876-4429 for help, or visit http://cchd.maryland.gov/health-services-tobacco-prevention/.
- If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink per day.
- Stay at a healthy weight and avoid excess weight gain.
- Get regular exercise.
- Discuss your breast cancer risk with your health care provider, especially if you use a birth control method that involves hormones, or if you take hormone therapy after menopause.