Early detection of breast cancer offers the best chance at achieving a cure. Early detection is achieved through routine Breast Cancer Screening. The specific screening regime will depend on your age, overall health, family history of breast cancer, and personal history of breast cancer, but will include a clinical breast exam and imaging.
A clinical breast exam is recommended at least every three years starting at the age of 20 and every year starting at the age of 40. Should you have a strong family history of breast cancer, a clinical breast exam may be recommended more frequently. The best time to schedule your clinical breast exam is soon after your menstrual period ends, because your breasts will not be as tender and swollen. This makes it easier to detect any unusual changes. If you have stopped menstruating, schedule the yearly exam on a day that's easy for you to remember, such as your birthday
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Breast imaging is used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms. Screening mammograms usually involve two x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast.
Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread. Results from randomized controlled trials and other studies show that screening mammography can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70, especially for those over age 50.
A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found. Besides a lump, signs of breast cancer can include breast pain, thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge. or a change in breast size or shape; however, these signs may also be indications of benign conditions. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants.