Breast & Cervical Health
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Montana women. Although it often starts too small to be felt, breast cancer can grow and spread throughout the body, causing serious health problems and, sometimes, death.
Some women may not have any signs or symptoms of breast cancer at all. Some warning signs, though, may include:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Redness, flaking, irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Pain in the breast or nipple area
- Any change in breast size or shape
Screening tests for breast cancer include:
- Breast self-exams
- Clinical breast exams
- MRI may be used for women with a strong family history or other factors that make them more susceptible to breast cancer.
When to start screening and how often to be screened depends largely on a woman’s age, her family history, and other factors. Visit the American Cancer Society website to learn more about breast cancer screening tests and guidelines. For more information, review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or call 406-791-9272.
Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infection are available. When cancer starts in the cervix, the narrow end of the uterus that connects to the vagina, it is called cervical cancer. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
Some women may have no signs or symptoms of cervical cancer, especially early on. Later, cervical cancer may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. This is why screening tests are so important.
Pap tests are the most commonly used screening test for cervical cancer. Average risk women aged 21 to 65 are recommended to have a Pap smear every 3 years. Women aged 30 to 65 may extend Pap smear testing to every 5 years if HPV testing is done in combination with cytology. In Montana, 77% of women reported
meeting this recommendation during 2018.
Visit the American Cancer Society website for information on screening guidelines for cervical cancer. For information review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or call the City-County Health Department at 406-791-9272.
The City-County Health Department also offers information on prevention and screening for other cancers: