Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screening looks for signs of cancer when there are no symptoms. Mammograms are the most effective test for finding breast cancer early.

What Is a Screening Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Screening mammograms are used to look for breast cancer in women before changes in the breast are seen or felt. While screening mammograms don't prevent breast cancer, they may help find cancer early before it spreads to other parts of the body.

Know and Understand Your Health History

Family and personal health histories are important in helping us provide the best care, based on your needs. Knowing your family history can help your care team recommend screenings that can help find cancer early.

The following information can help you learn more about your personal and family history, and how these things could increase your risk for breast cancer. The things that increase your risk are called risk factors.

Do You Have Any Risk Factors?

Risk factors are things that increase your risk for developing a health condition.

The following chart lists common risk factors for breast cancer. Print this page and check any of the things that are true for you. Then find your screening recommendation below.


Risk Factors for breast cancer Yes
You've had:  
Breast or ovarian cancer  
Breast biopsy — talk to your doctor about your results to find out if you're at increased risk  
Radiation therapy to your chest between the ages of 10 and 30  
Your family history:  
Mother, sister, or daughter with any of the following:
   Breast cancer before age 50
   Breast cancer in both breasts at any age
   Breast and ovarian cancer
Two (2) or more aunts or grandmothers on the same side of the family with breast cancer before age 50  
Three (3) or more relatives with breast cancer (mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother)  
One relative with ovarian cancer and another relative with breast cancer on the same side of the family (mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother)  
Male relative with breast cancer  
One relative with breast cancer or ovarian cancer and you are of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage  


Based on your age and what you marked in the chart, see the recommendation that is appropriate for you.

Kaiser Permanente Recommendations

You have had breast or ovarian cancer: We recommend screening mammograms every year, or as recommended by your doctor. To check if further evaluation is needed, see:
Should You Consider Genetic Screening?

You are 25-80; have a family history: Certain genetic factors could increase a woman's risk for developing breast cancer, often at a younger age. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, see if further evaluation may be needed:
Should You Consider Genetic Screening?

You are 40-49: If you checked any of the risk factors, we recommend screening mammograms every year. If you didn't check any items, the decision to start screening before age 50 is yours. For information to help you make a decision about screening, see:
Mammograms Before Age 50

You are 50-74: If you checked any of the items, we recommend screening mammograms every year. If you didn't check any items, we recommend screening mammograms every 2 years.

You are 75 or older: A decision to continue or stop screening mammograms should be based on your personal preference and situation. Talk with your doctor about your need for screening.

You have breast implants: We recommend screening based on the guidelines listed above.

Schedule Your Mammogram

Call one of Kaiser Permanente's mammogram locations to schedule an appointment. Saturday appointments also are available at each location once a month.
Mammogram Locations

You can schedule online if you have registered on this website and get care at a Kaiser Permanente clinic.
Personal Online Services

If You Notice Breast Changes

If you have any of the following symptoms or other symptoms that concern you, call your doctor's office:

  • A lump in your breast or chest wall.
  • Bloody or clear fluid from your nipple.
  • New dimpling, rash, or redness that doesn't go away, or other skin changes on the breast.
  • Constant pain and tenderness in your breast.
  • Swelling under your arm that doesn't go away.

Your doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram rather than a screening mammogram to check your breast(s).

Coverage may vary by plan. To check your benefits, refer to your coverage agreement or contact Member Services.

Clinical review by David Grossman, MD
Kaiser Permanente
Reviewed 03/01/2014