Just how important are screenings for breast cancer? The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer screening tests save thousands of lives each year and have the potential to save many more if more women and health care providers took advantage of these screenings.
Screening tests can detect breast cancer early on, even before any symptoms are present. Breast cancers that are detected early through screening exams are more likely to be smaller and more confined, and can often be treated more successfully than breast cancers that are found later, after symptoms have developed. Learn more about the different screening exams for breast cancer:
Breast Self-Exam, or BSE
Breast Self-Exams may help you detect slight changes in your breasts that could be indicators of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society's website provides a Self-Exam Guide here. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of a BSE and follow his or her recommendation for if and how often you should perform this exam.
Clinical Breast Exam
During your routine physical exam, your doctor may perform a clinical breast exam. You doctor will check carefully for any lumps or other changes in your breasts and under your arms. The American Cancer Society recommends women 20 to 39 years of age have this exam every three years, and women 40 and older have it every year.
A mammogram is a special x-ray of the breast that may be helpful in detecting tumors that are too small for your doctor or you to feel. If you have risk factors for breast cancer, your doctor may suggest regular mammograms. Most organizations recommend a yearly mammogram for women 40 and older, but talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks for you and make a personal decision based on his or her recommendations.
To learn more about breast cancer risk and the benefits of breast cancer screenings, visit our online Health Library. At Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, we provide two major treatment options for cancer– chemotherapy and surgery– as well as an array of both clinical and support services. Learn more about our services by visiting us online.