By the time breast cancer symptoms appear, the cancer is likely to have spread beyond breast tissues. Screening helps detect breast cancer early, before the arrival of symptoms, which often allows for more successful and less invasive treatment options. Early detection saves thousands of lives annually. There are several tools and methods used and recommended by medical professionals for screening.
Women of all ages can benefit from performing regular breast self-exams. These involve checking the breasts for lumps and changes in texture, size, and shape of the breasts and underarm area. The most thorough self-exams include manual and visual examination. Your doctor can instruct you on the best way to check yourself between visits, or you can find breast self-exam instructions online.
Clinical Breast Exams
A clinical breast exam is performed by a doctor or nurse who checks the breasts for lumps or irregularities with his or her hands. A clinical breast exam is important but is not a replacement for a mammogram, as it does not have the early detection capability.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are the standard screening procedure for women aged 40 and older. Women with a family history of breast cancer may be encouraged to begin regular screenings at an earlier age. Early detection through mammograms has been shown to dramatically decrease breast cancer fatalities.
Patients with irregular mammogram results often require additional diagnostic testing. For patients with high risk or symptoms of breast cancer, ultrasound or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technology may be used to evaluate the breast tissue. Tissue sampling or biopsy is also sometimes used to test breast cells and fluids for irregularities.
To learn more about breast cancer screening or treatment, contact Dr. Marla W. Dudak, MD. Dr. Dudak is a fellowship-trained, board-certified breast surgeon practicing in Boca Raton, Florida. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call today at (888) 418-6759.