Nearly 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. According to the American Cancer Society, many doctors believe that early detection tests save thousands of lives each year and even more women’s lives could be saved if women took advantage of breast cancer screening and testing.
Early detection is imperative to the successful treatment of breast cancer; the more advanced the cancer the harder it is to treat effectively. 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.
•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 20’s and 30’s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular health exam by a health professional every three years. Starting at age 40, women should have a CBE every year.
•Breast self-examination (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20’s. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away. Women at high risk should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.
Women at moderately increased risk for breast cancer include those who:
•Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of 15% to 20% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history
•Have a personal history of breast cancer, lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
•Have extremely dense breasts or unevenly dense breasts when viewed by mammograms