The key: Early detection
The key to finding breast cancer is early detection, and the key to early detection is screening: looking for cancer in women who have no symptoms of disease. The National Cancer Institute (along with a dozen other major health organizations) suggests a three-part program for early detection. The three steps, based on a partnership between a woman and her physician, are:
- Breast examination by a doctor or nurse
- Breast self-examination
Used together, and on a regular basis, a breast exam by a doctor or nurse and mammography offer the best chance of finding breast cancer early. Studies have shown that having regular mammograms along with breast exams by a doctor or nurse can reduce deaths from breast cancer by a third or more. In addition, all women should perform breast self-examinations each month.