Breast cancer is a fear that many women have. It occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both breasts. They can invade nearby tissues and form a lump, called a malignant tumor. The cancer cells can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
When should you get breast screening done?
Breast screening is a simple way to detect early breast cancers, when they are too small for you or your doctor to see or feel. The first stage of breast screening is a mammogram, which is an x-ray of each breast.
For women not at high risk: Get a mammogram done every year beginning from age 40 and older and continue to do so as long as they are in good health. (American Cancer Society guidelines).
The USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) guidelines recommend starting at age 50 and getting it done every 2 years. You should speak to your doctor and decide on the best course for you.
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) done as part of a regular check-up by a doctor, preferably every 3 years
Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change to a doctor right away. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Talk to a doctor about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women can easily miss a breast lump that an expert can find.And for the same reasons, it is better to learn BSE from an expert.
Some women at high risk for breast cancer – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms.
If a lump is found, your doctor will evaluate it with an ultrasound of the breast. If required may advise either an FNAC (an examination of the cells aspirated from the lump-an outpatient procedure) or a biopsy.