The Importance of Finding Breast Cancer Early

Finding Breast Cancer Early

The goal of screening exams for early breast cancer detection is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms.Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. Early detection means using an approach that lets breast cancer get diagnosed earlier than otherwise might have occurred.

Breast cancers that are found because they are causing symptoms tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis (outlook) of a woman with this disease.

Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.  Self-exams and mammograms are the two most important breast exams used today.

Self-exams

A breast self-examination involves checking your breasts for lumps or changes while standing and lying in different positions and while looking at your breasts in a mirror to note any changes in their appearance. Once you know what your breasts normally look and feel like, any new lump or change in appearance should be evaluated by a doctor.

For directions on Self Breast Exam Click Here.

Mammograms

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. A diagnostic mammogram is used to diagnose breast disease in women who have breast symptoms or an abnormal result on a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms are used to look for breast disease in women who are asymptomatic; that is, those who appear to have no breast problems. Screening mammograms usually take 2 views (x-ray pictures taken from different angles) of each breast.

***Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.***

**Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular health exam by a healthcare professional preferably every 3 years.**

It’s important for all women to conduct monthly self-breast exams.  Go conduct one right now and mark your calendar a month from now, as a reminder.

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