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Mammograms Save Lives

Mammograms detect about 85 percent of breast cancers and help find cancer early when cancer is easier to treat.

In New York state females, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer type at 28.3% and the second most common cause of cancer death at 14.5%. Approximately 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

Breast cancer risk factors

  • Not modifiable: getting older (most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50), inherited genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes), reproductive history, having dense breasts, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, previous treatment using radiation therapy
  • Modifiable: physical activity, being overweight or obese after menopause, drinking alcohol
  • Additional risk factors of breast cancer:


About 8 out of 10 upstate New York women ages 50-74 had a mammogram in the past two years. Mammograms are a preventative health measure that women should take to stay on top of their health. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can detect suspicious areas that could be signs of cancer.

Mammograms detect about 85 percent of breast cancers and help find cancer early when cancer is easier to treat. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women ages 50-74 have a mammogram every 2 years.

Top concerns of women who have not yet had a mammogram:

  • Will it hurt? It can be uncomfortable, but the test takes only a few moments and can save your life.
  • Is it dangerous? The potential benefits of early cancer detection outweigh the risks of a small amount of radiation exposure.
  • What if my results are abnormal? About 10 percent of women are called back for further evaluation.


Some women will need to start getting mammograms before age 50 and may need to have them done more often. Every woman should talk with her doctor to determine her personal risk for breast cancer and make a screening plan.

Talk with your doctor to:

  • Understand your personal risk of breast cancer.
  • Decide together about when to start mammograms, and how often to get them.
  • Discuss any concerns or fears you may have.
  • Discuss any changes in your breasts, including pain, lumps, new discharge, or redness.

Screening mammograms are considered a preventive service and are covered by most health insurance plans. Excellus covers breast cancer mammography screenings every 1-2 years for women over age 40.

For more information about breast cancer rates among women and your risk talk to your doctor or find out more at: