Breast Cancer Screening

The National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be more than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2015 and more than 40,000 deaths from the disease.

Studies have shown that regular annual mammography screening of women with no symptoms of breast cancer has lowered the number of women who die from the disease by about 30 percent.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, we offer early breast cancer screening options, including mammography, through our Breast Screening Program. Our Breast Examination Center of Harlem has screened more than 200,000 women for breast cancer since opening its doors in the late 1970s. It provides free, high-quality care to the community.

Our RISE (Risk Assessment, Imaging, Surveillance, and Education) program at the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center delivers personalized, ongoing surveillance to women at an increased risk for breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening tests include a number of different types of examinations.

Breast Self-Examination (BSE)

During a BSE, you check your own breasts for anything unusual. You should primarily look for lumps, changes in breast size or shape, leaking of fluid from the nipples, or irregular thickening of tissue.

Clinical Breast Examination (CBE)

CBE is a physical examination of the breast performed by a healthcare professional.


Mammography uses low-dose x-rays to examine your breasts. Annual mammogram screenings have been shown to significantly reduce the number of women age 40 and older who die from breast cancer. Our screening centers use digital mammography to capture x-ray images as well as computer images in which the picture can be moved and viewed from different angles. We also offer digital breast tomosynthesis, which is sometimes called 3-D mammography because it provides a deeper look at the breast tissue.  


Ultrasound (or ultrasonography) uses sound waves to create images of your blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Breast ultrasound is often used to assess abnormalities that are found during mammography or a clinical breast exam. The accuracy of the technique depends greatly on the skill level and training of the technician performing it. All technicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering are experts in ultrasound. Currently, we perform this examination if your doctor requests additional screening. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This procedure uses a magnetic field to generate 3-D images of internal body structures, including the breast. MRI requires the injection of fluids that improve the visibility of the inside of the body. Studies of women with a high risk of breast cancer have shown that MRI has a higher sensitivity in detecting the disease than other screening methods.