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Awareness about breast cancer is critical to both prevention and early detection. Screening women between the ages of 50–74 can help identify the disease when it is most treatable.

The average risk of a woman in the U.S. developing invasive breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%, or a 1 in 8 chance. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 2.5% or 1 in 39.1

Screening Saves Lives

MamogramMammography is the most effective screening test used today and can detect cancers at an early stage when chances of survival are highest. Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. Three out of four women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and are not considered high risk.2

Physician’s Role

Women can benefit from the opportunity to express their concerns and fears with their provider regarding the risk of breast cancer. Patients should feel that they can ask questions about breast cancer, their family history, breast screening methods, and their individual risk for breast cancer.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons recommends that all women discuss breast cancer risks with a provider when they are between the ages of 25 and 30. This information can be updated by the provider at the patient’s health appointments prior to the start of mammography screening.3

Educating Patients

Every woman should know how her breasts normally look and feel, so she can recognize any changes that may occur. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include4:

  • Lump in the breast or underarm
  • Swelling or thickening of all or part of the breast
  • Dimpling or irritation of breast skin
  • Localized, persistent breast pain
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Newly inverted nipple or nipple discharge
  • Any change in the size or shape of breast

Overcoming Barriers to Care

Providers can address barriers to screening mammography by advocating for convenient screening locations with accessible transportation. For women who may be uninsured or under-insured, there are programs that offer free or low-cost mammography, including those sponsored by the following organizations:

Resources for Members

For members, Highmark has resources available that emphasize the importance of preventive health screenings for female patients. You can order free copies of the following materials to share with patients during their visit:

  • Breast Cancer Screening Brochure
  • Breast Cancer Screening Reminder Card
  • Breast Cancer Screening Flyer (also available in Spanish)
  • Health Screening and Vaccination Tracker (also available in Spanish)

To view these resources, go to Provider Resource Center > EDUCATION/MANUALS > Educational Resources – Member And Provider.

To order, go to the Provider Resource Center > EDUCATION/MANUALS > Inventory Request Form > Select Printable Item. Click the down arrow and then select the items you wish to order. Complete the form and click the ADD TO ORDER button.

Preventive Health Guidelines

For providers, the Preventive Health Guidelines include breast cancer screenings for eligible members. To access the Preventive Health Guidelines, go to the Provider Resource Center > EDUCATION/MANUALS > Preventive Health Guidelines > Adult Ages 19-64 Guidelines OR Adult 65 and Older Guidelines.

Please note that most, although not all, of our customer groups follow the Highmark Preventive Schedule. Verify the member’s eligibility and benefits prior to providing services by using the Eligibility and Benefits function in NaviNet® or Availity® Essentials or by performing an electronic HIPAA 270 Eligibility/Benefit Inquiry.


  1. Breast Cancer Statistics | How Common Is Breast Cancer? | American Cancer Society
  2. Mammography Saves Lives | American College of Radiology
  3. Consensus Statement on Screening Mammography (
  4. Breast cancer - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Highmark does not recommend particular treatments or health care services. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should determine the appropriate treatment and follow-up with your patient. Coverage of services is subject to the terms of each member’s benefit plan. Additionally, state laws and regulations governing health insurance, health plans and coverage may apply and will vary from state to state.