Finding breast cancer early and getting treatment are the most important strategies to prevent death. Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms start to appear, some women with breast cancer have no symptoms so regular breast cancer screening becomes important.
Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don’t have any symptoms. The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms. Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis (outlook) of a woman with this disease.
For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Mammography – The most important screening test for breast cancer is the mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumour can be felt by you or your doctor. The following are recommended screening guidelines for women at high risk:
Women at high risk should have yearly mammograms along with an MRI starting at age 30.
Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
- Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
Despite the different recommendations, experts agree that women should talk to their doctors about breast cancer screening from age 40 onward.
Early detection of breast cancer is important as it is associated with an increased number of available treatment options, increased survival, and improved quality of life.
Protect your health early detection saves lives.
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