Need to schedule your mammogram?
We have three convenient locations for you to choose from:
Ellis Fischel Cancer Center
1 Hospital Drive
Columbia, MO 65212
University Physicians-Green Meadows
3217 S. Providence Road
Columbia, MO 65203
Women's and Children's Hospital
404 Keene Street
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 882-1161, press option 2
Early detection is the key
Starting at age 20, women should begin regular breast self-examinations to become familiar with how your breasts usually look and feel so you may notice any changes. Changes in your breasts may include:
- Development of a lump
- A discharge other than breast milk
- Swelling of the breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Nipple abnormalities (such as pain, redness, scaliness, turning inward)
Starting at age 40 - depending on your personal risk factors - women should schedule an annual mammogram to help detect any changes in breast tissue.
What are the symptoms?
Breast cancer often causes no symptoms in its early stages. Women with early breast cancer usually do not feel pain or experience any symptoms at all. Screening tests, like mammograms, are better able to detect the disease at this time. As the cancer grows, however, it can cause the following changes.
- A lump or thickening in or near your breast or under your arm.
- A change in the size or shape of your breast.
- Nipple discharge, tenderness, or inversion, meaning the nipple pulls back into your breast.
- Nipple or breast pain.
- A change in the way the skin of your breast, areola, or nipple looks or feels. For example, the skin may look like the skin of an orange, or the nipple may turn inward.
Women who have any of the above symptoms should check with their physicians, especially if they are older than age 50 or have a family history of the disease.
Know the risk factors
Risk factors for breast cancer may include:
- Gender - Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
- Race/ethnicity - It has been noted that Caucasian women develop breast cancer slightly more often than African-American women. However, African-American women tend to die of breast cancer more often. This is may be partly due to the fact that African-American women often develop a more aggressive type of tumor, although why this happens is not known. The risk for developing breast cancer and dying from it is lower in Hispanic, Native American, and Asian women.
- Aging - Two out of three women with invasive cancer are diagnosed after age 55.
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Previous breast irradiation
- Family history and genetic factors - Having a close relative, such as a mother or sister, with breast cancer increases the risk. This includes changes in certain genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and others.
- Benign breast disease
- Dense breast tissue - Breast tissue may look dense or fatty on a mammogram. Older women with dense breast tissue are at increased risk.
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure - Women who took this drug while pregnant (to lower the chance of miscarriage) are at higher risk. The possible effect on their daughters is under study.
- Previous breast biopsy in which the tissue showed atypical hyperplasia
- Menstrual periods that began early in life (before age 12)
- Menopause that began later in life (after age 55)
Test your own risk for breast cancer with an online risk assessment tool.
What do you know about breast cancer?
Take the breast cancer quiz to test your knowledge.