Breast Health


Breast Cancer Screening

A screening mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer.

  • Women age 40 or older:  Annually or as recommended by your doctor

  • Women under age 40 who are at higher-than-average risk of breast cancer: Ask your doctor if a mammogram is recommended and how often.

  • Annual clinical breast exam:  Good breast cancer prevention also includes an annual clinical breast exam by your doctor beginning at age 40.

Win a $100 Gift Card

Complete your mammogram 

To show our appreciation for completing your mammogram, your name will be entered for a drawing to win a $100 gift card when proof of your exam is provided.* Simply complete the online form.

*To qualify, the exam must have been completed within the past year. Limited to one submission per year.  See official rules.

IMPORTANTE: ¿Puede leer esta carta? Si no, nosotros le podemos ayudar a leerla. Ademãs, usted puede recibir esta carta escrita en español. Para obtener ayuda gratuita, llame ahora mismo al Western Health Advantage 916.563.2250 o llame gratis al 888.563.2250 lunes a viernes de 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer

In cooperation with the Albie Aware organization, WHA held a breast health educational webinar about early detection and ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer.  We’ve included links to the presentations that discusses breast cancer: who it affects and why; how breast cancer is diagnosed and treated (including methods of treatment and effectiveness); how to keep an eye on changes (self-exam) and other steps you can take, including diet and exercise.  We’ve included here both in English and Spanish…feel free to share.

Establish Healthy Habits
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra fat tissue after menopause can boost your estrogen levels, increasing your breast cancer risk.
  • Exercise often. Exercise can lower your chance of getting breast cancer, especially after menopause. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity—or 75 minutes of vigorous activity—weekly.
  • Diet also plays a role in risk reduction. Cutting back on red meat is a good idea—opt for other protein sources like poultry, legumes, fish and nuts—and watch your alcohol intake.  
Keep Current on Your Screenings
  • Mammograms are the mainstay of breast cancer screening. They don’t reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, but they do reduce your risk of dying from it.
  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends biennial screening mammograms starting at age 50. Women in their 40s should talk to their doctor about whether mammography makes sense for them.
  • You should also do a monthly breast self-exam. You know your own body best and will tend to notice any changes; alert your doctor if you feel anything of concern.
Heed Your Hormones
  • Long-term estrogen therapy hikes your risk of breast cancer—especially after age 50—so try to delay or reduce your use of hormone therapy. Younger women taking birth control pills, which also contain estrogen, aren’t at significant risk.
  • We know much more about breast cancer than in generations past, so you—in partnership with your doctor—have the power to reduce your risk and spot trouble early, when it’s easiest to treat.

Breast Cancer Myth Busters

Find out what’s true—and what’s not

There’s plenty of information about breast cancer floating around, but some myths have been repeated so many times they’ve gained credibility. To take good care of your breast health, you need to know the facts. The following are some common breast cancer myths that have gained steam but simply aren’t backed by evidence-based science.


When checking yourself for signs of breast cancer, simply examine your breasts for lumps.


While you should certainly be on the lookout for breast lumps, they aren’t all you need to check for. You should also schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice thickening breast tissue, continuous breast pain, puckering of the breast skin or nipple changes.  


If you find a lump in your breast, you most likely have cancer.


If you find a lump in your breast, you most likely don’t have cancer. Breast lumps are common, and eight out of 10 are not cancerous. Most are just fluidfilled cysts or noncancerous growths (some are called fibroadenoma). Still, if you notice a lump in your breast, it’s important to have it checked out by a doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis.


If a lump is cancerous, it will feel hard and won’t move around.


Some cancerous lumps are smooth and will move if you slide your hand over them. Only your doctor can determine whether a breast lump is cancer.


A mammogram can determine whether you have breast cancer.


Mammography is an important tool for detecting breast cancer early. But while a mammogram can reveal a suspicious mass, it can’t tell your doctor whether that mass is cancerous. To do that, your doctor must do a biopsy, in which tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.


If you have had a mastectomy, you can’t get breast cancer.


A mastectomy, which removes nearly all of your breast tissue, dramatically reduces your chances of getting breast cancer in the future. But there is a small chance that some cancer cells might have remained on your chest wall. So, even women who have had a mastectomy should continue with regular breast exams.


Breast cancer mainly affects women who have a family history of the disease.


About 90 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.