Just what is a breast screening?

Because breast screening is more than just one thing, sometimes women can be unsure of all aspects. So here they are! 

What is a Self Breast Exam?

Breast screening starts with you. Self-breast exams are the first step to a complete screening program. 

We recommend monthly self-breast exams in the shower or other private place. The key here is that no one knows your body better than you do.

If you need help learning how to properly perform a self-breast exam there are shower cards available at any of our St. Joseph/Candler mammography departments. 

In the shower

Put one hand behind your head. With the finger pads of your three middle fingers, move hand over entire breast area. Use your right hand for your left breast, left hand for your right breast. Then examine each underarm with arm only slightly raised. Check for lumps, knots, or thickenings.

Lying down

To examine the right breast, place right hand behind head. Follow the same technique as in the shower, using left hand to examine right breast. Then put left hand behind head, and repeat steps with right hand for left breast.

In front of a mirror

With hands firmly pressing down on hips, check for changes in the shape size or skin texture of your breasts. Also check nipples for changes, including any unusual discharge.

What is a Clinical Breast Exam?

The next step in the screening process is to have a clinical breast exam. This takes place during your annual cervical cancer screening.

Your gynecologist can perform a clinical breast exam. It’s very similar to a self-breast exam only performed by a trained medical professional. This is important because providers have been trained to feel for minute abnormalities that women might miss.

What is a Digital Mammogram?

The last step in a comprehensive screening process is a yearly mammogram. For women with no family history the screening age starts at age 40. Digital mammograms are standard these days, giving doctors a better look at the tissue.

A family history of breast cancer may indicate beginning mammograms earlier. Please talk to your doctor. Mammograms can detect a tumor at a stage when you may not even feel a lump or think that anything might be wrong. 3D mammogram technology can detect it even earlier.

What is a 3D Mammogram?  

The latest in breast imaging is available at St. Joseph’s/Candler—the 3D breast tomosynthesis mammogram. A 3D mammogram offers patients, especially those with denser breast, a more comprehensive exam by allowing radiologists to see through possible overlapping tissue in the breast for better visualization of early cancers not able to be seen with conventional mammography.
3D mammography facts:

  • 27 percent improvement is cancer detection rates, with 40 percent improvement in invasive cancer detection
  • Lowers patient’s chance of being called back for additional mammographic imaging
  • Takes the same amount of time as a traditional mammogram
  • Most insurances cover 3D for screening mammograms

Call Now to Schedule a Mammogram

To schedule a mammogram call 912-819-6800. Be sure to request a 3D mammogram. 

The Telfair Mammography Fund can help women with no insurance. Call 912-819-7055.

Screening Guidelines

Self breast exam: Monthly for women beginning in their early twenties
Clinical breast exam: Yearly by medical professional
Mammogram: Yearly for women over 40 with no family history, earlier for women with a history of breast cancer in the family at the discretion of your physician.


  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
  • Find us on:

St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000