Breast Exam in Cedar Rapids, IA

Breast cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the breast tissue. While it can’t be totally prevented, in addition to leading a healthy lifestyle, early detection through regular screening is the most effective way to stay ahead of the disease. Through improvements of treatments and early detection, the rates of breast cancer deaths have steadily declined since 1989. 

The board-certified Ob Gyns at Cedar Rapids OB Gyn are dedicated to helping patients ensure their breast health by identifying concerns early. Routine breast exams are an essential part of preventative care. If you have concerns about your breast health, call (319) 363-2682 to request an appointment at our Ob Gyn clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Breast Cancer Statistics

  • A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer sometime in her life is approximately 1 in 8.
  • Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer among women, next to skin cancer. 
  • On average, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes in the United States. 
  • The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 1 in 39 (about 2.5%). 
  • In the United States, the 5-year relative survival rate for all forms and stages of breast cancer collectively is 91%.  


The cause of breast cancer is unknown. Most people with breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. We do however know that the disease is caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. 

Risk Factors

Research does show that there are certain risk factors associated with breast cancer. 

It’s important to note, research has shown that most women with known risk factors do not get breast cancer and that many women who get breast cancer have none of the risk factors listed below.

Genetic risk factors (risk factors that cannot be changed)

  • Race and ethnicity: Breast cancers are more often diagnosed in Caucasian women compared to other races. African American women are more likely to develop breast cancer among women under the age of 40. Mortality rates are higher in African American women.
  • Gender: Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men
  • Age: Breast cancer risk increases as a woman ages. Approximately 77% of women with breast cancer are over age 50 when they are diagnosed
  • Family history: Individuals are at an increased risk if they have a mother, sister, father, or child who has breast or ovarian cancer. The risk further increases if that individual was under the age of 50. 
  • Personal health history: If you have had breast or ovarian cancer before, you are at higher risk for developing the disease again. 

Environmental and lifestyle risk factors (risk factors that can be changed)

  • Lack of diet and exercise: Those who are overweight and/or get little physical activity have a higher risk of breast cancer. 
  • Frequent alcohol use: Frequent consumption of alcohol increases a person’s risk for diseases including breast cancer. 
  • Breast conditions: Women with dense breasts or changes in breast tissue are at an increased risk. 
  • Radiation: Radiation to the chest is another associated risk, though usually unavoidable. 
  • Menstrual cycles: Early onset of menstruation (before age 12) or late onset of menopause (after age 55) increases risk. Additionally, no childbearing or late childbearing, absence of breastfeeding, and taking hormone replacement therapy for extended periods of time can increase a woman’s risk. 

Prevention and Detection

Because the cause of breast cancer is unknown, finding and treating it early is the best method of prevention. 

  • Breast Self Exam
    • Women 20 or older should perform every month
  • Clinical Breast Exam by a Physician
    • Women age 20-39 should have one every 3 years
    • Women over 40 should have one annually
  • Mammography
    • Women aged 40 and older should have a mammogram once a year if they are at average risk.
    • Mammograms can identify a breast mass as much as 2 years before it can be detected by touch. 
  • Ultrasonography
  • Breast MRI
  • Breast Biopsy

All women should discuss their personal risk for breast cancer with their physician, as some women with an increased risk may need to begin screenings and other preventive measures early. 

How to Perform Breast Self Exam

Step 1:

Looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips, examine your breasts for:

breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color.
breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling.
Contact your doctor if your notices any of the following:

dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin.
a nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out).
redness, soreness, rash, or swelling.

Step 2:

Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.

Step 3:

While you’re at the mirror, gently squeeze each nipple between your finger and thumb and check for nipple discharge (this could be a milky or yellow fluid or blood).

Step 4:

Feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. Be sure to feel all the breast tissue: just beneath your skin with a soft touch and down deeper with a firmer touch. Begin examining each area with a very soft touch, and then increase pressure so that you can feel the deeper tissue, down to your ribcage.

Step 5:

Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in Step 4.


Typical treatments of breast cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biologic therapy. 

Request a Breast Exam Today

Routine breast exams are an essential part of preventative care. Call (319) 363-2682 to request an appointment at our Ob Gyn clinic in Cedar Rapids today.

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