Reducing risk of breast problems.
Become a breast friend in four easy steps


Kimmy Phuong Hoang has helped hundreds of women get their first mammograms. But when it came time to get one herself, she was scared. Learn how she overcame her fear and why she says regular screenings are so important.


Mammogram technologist Leslea Boyle knows that regular breast screening saves lives -- because it saved her mother's life.


You're the expert when it comes to knowing how your breasts normally look and feel.


Take this quiz to find out how well you know your breasts.

5 Things You Need To Know About Mammograms

Kimmy Phuong Hoang

1. What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of your breast that uses a safe, low dose of radiation. A mammo-gram can help find problems in your breasts that, for example, look like specks of dust on the x-ray picture and are too small to feel.

2. Why should I have a regular mammogram?

By finding breast cancer at an early stage, it's easier to treat it effectively. When you have regular mammograms, the new x-ray can be compared to the old one and help identify any changes early on.

3. How do I book a mammogram?

If you're 50 or older, you don't need a referral from your doctor. Call the Ontario Breast Screening Program yourself at 1-800-668-9304 to schedule an appointment at a clinic near you. All screenings are done by trained technologists who specialize in mammography and are highly skilled. If you're under 50, talk to your family doctor about when you should start having mammograms.

4. How should I prepare for my mammogram?

On the day of your appointment, wear a two-piece outfit, so that you can remove your top easily for the x-ray. Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, body lotions or talcum powders as the metals in these products can show up on the x-ray picture.

5. What does it feel like to have a mammogram?

When you have a mammogram, you feel some pressure on your breast, similar to a blood pressure cuff on your arm, but it only lasts for the few seconds it takes to get a picture.

Go for the gold

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is the gold standard for mammograms with more than 100 locations across the province that are accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists. OBSP clinics provide free, high-quality screenings to women 50 and older by highly trained mammogram specialists. Results of your screening are available to you and your doctor within two weeks of your appointment. They'll also send you a free reminder letter every one to two years to schedule your next visit.

Reduce your risk

No one knows for sure why some women develop breast cancer and others do not. But as well as having regular mammograms, there are other steps you can take to stay healthy and reduce your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Women who are overweight have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who are not. Talk to your doctor if you aren't sure what a healthy body weight is for you.
  • Eat well. A balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in sugars and fats helps to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Be active. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Not only will you reduce your risk of having breast cancer, but you'll feel better and more energetic, too.
  • Limit alcohol. If you drink, have one drink or less a day.
  • Live smoke-free. Avoid smoking tobacco products and stay away from second-hand smoke as much as possible.

Did you know?

Currently, about 60% of women in Ontario ages 50 to 69 have regular mammograms. Ontario's target is to have 70% of women in this age group have regular screenings by 2010 and 90% by the year 2020.

Become a breast friend in 4 easy steps

Being a breast friend is easy. Learn the four key facts every woman should know about breast health and pass them on to your mothers, sisters, daughters and friends.

  1. Mammograms can save lives by finding breast changes in the early stages.
  2. Women 50 and older need regular mammograms every one to two years.
  3. Women 50 and older can book their own free mammograms by calling the Ontario Breast Screening Program at 1-800-668-9304.
  4. All women should understand how their breasts normally look and feel and talk to their doctors about any changes.

The facts about breast cancer

  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Ontario.
  • In the next year, it's estimated that 8,500 women in Ontario will develop breast cancer, and about 2,000 will die from breast cancer.
  • Older women are at greatest risk of having breast cancer.
  • 80% of breast cancer is found in women over the age of 50.
  • Almost 90% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
  • The precise causes of breast cancer are not yet understood, but if it is found early through regular breast screening, when it is small, there is a good chance it can be treated successfully.

Next steps

As well as having regular breast screening, women who are 50 and older should also have regular colorectal and cervical screening. For more information, visit www.cancercareontario.ca.