Peel Public Health...serving the communities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga

Arrow BulletBreast Cancer

If you find a breast lump, don’t wait - get it checked.
Most lumps are not cancerous.

Anatomy and Function of the Breast

  • Breast tissue extends up to the collarbone and from the armpit to the breastbone.
  • Behind the breast tissue are the muscles of the chest and the upper arm.
  • The breast has fatty and glandular tissues such as milk glands and milk ducts
  • The main function of the breast is to produce and secrete milk
  • The glands where the milk is made are grouped into lobules and the ducts carry the milk to the nipple.
  • Within the breast, the glands and ducts are surrounded and protected by fatty tissue.
  • Breast tissue changes with age, from mostly milk ducts during adolescence to mostly fatty tissue in older women.

Anatomy and Function of the Breast

Sources: Canadian Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

Reduce your Risk - Breast Screening

Breast screening is the regular examination of your breasts to find breast cancer early.

Breast screening includes breast awareness, a breast X-ray (mammogram) and a Clinical (physical) exam of your breasts by a trained health care provider.


A. Breast Awareness

  • Get to know to your normal breast shape and size, and how your breast tissue feels

If you find a breast lump, don’t wait. Get it checked. Most lumps are not cancer.

If you notice any changes, see your doctor.

Look for:

  • A lump that feels like a pea, or an area that feels thicker or harder than the rest of your breast tissue
  • Changes in the size or shape of breast - dimples, creases or skin folds that are new
  • Changes to the areola or nipple - nipple is inverted, puckered, or scaly; rash, itching or discharge from the nipple
  • Change in the color or feel of the skin of the breast areas that look red or feel like the skin of an orange

    Source: Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)
Pulled in Nipple
Pulled in Nipple
Skin Changes
Skin Changes

B. Clinical Breast Exam

  • A Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) is performed by a doctor or nurse practitioner to examine and identify any changes or problems in the breasts
  • It is recommended that women over 40 years of age get a Clinical Breast Exam every 2 years by a healthcare provider.

(Source Cancer Care Ontario, 2011)

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C. Mammography
  • A mammogram is x-ray of the breasts done by a registered radiology technologist who specializes in mammography.

Mammography is used as a screening test for women with no signs of breast disease and a diagnostic test when signs are present. Mammography does not prevent cancer.

Mammography involves two x-rays of each breast, one taken from the side and one from the top and uses very low levels of radiation. The breast is squeezed between two plates for the pictures to be clear. This squeezing is uncomfortable, but it lasts only a few seconds.

  • All studies have shown quality mammography to be very safe.
  • The benefits of finding breast cancer early far outweigh the small amount of radiation needed for the mammogram.

Breast Compression is a flattening out of the breast on the X-ray plate during a mammogram.

  • To get a clear picture of the breast
  • To use a lower dose of radiation
Note: Compression does not spread a cancer that may already be in the breast

Mammography (do’s and don’ts)

On the day of the Mammogram:

Do Not use:
  • Deodorants
  • Antiperspirants
  • Body lotions, or
  • Talcum powders
(Metal in these products show up on the X-ray picture)

Do wear a two-piece outfit so you will only have to remove your top

When should women get a mammogram?

  • Women aged 50 to 69 years should have a mammogram every 2 years, unless directed by your health care provider.

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What is the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)?

  • The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is a program of Cancer Care Ontario and ensures high quality breast screening services for women 50 years and older, free of charge.
  • This program ensures High-quality mammograms that are accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) Mammography Accreditation Program.
  • Women 50 years and older can make their own appointments and do not need a doctors referral.
  • The program provides women and their doctors with their mammography results within 2 weeks
  • The program will send women a reminder letter, usually every 2 years, to book another mammogram appointment

Find an Ontario Breast Screening Location near you.

For More information please visit the Ontario Breast Screening Program.

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OBSP Screening Locations


  • * William Osler Health Centre - Brampton Civic Hospital
    (formerly Peel Memorial Hospital)
    Diagnostic Imaging
    2100 Bovaird Drive East
  • ** CML HealthCare Brampton
    164 Queen Street East, Suite B103


  • ** Credit Valley Diagnostic Centre
    2000 Credit Valley Road, Suite 103
  • ** Credit Valley Imaging Associates
    2300 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite G02
  • ** CML HealthCare/King X-rays and Ultrasound
    71 King Street West, Suite 102
  • ** Dixie X-ray Breast Imaging Centre
    3461 Dixie Road, Suite 201
  • ** The Credit Valley Hospital
    2200 Eglinton Ave West, Mississauga, ON
    Diagnostic Imaging
  • Radiology Associates Clarkson
    1020 Johnson’s Lane, Bldg C, Mississauga
  • Radiology Associates Mississauga
    3025 Hurontario St, Suite 402, Mississauga


  • Trillium Health Centre - West Toronto
    Betty Wallace Women’s Health Centre

* Clinical Breast Examination AVAILABLE on site
** Clinical Breast Examination NOT AVAILABLE on site

Source: Cancer Care Ontario

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Related Links

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