EARLY DETECTION OF BREAST CANCER
DR. SANA JUNAID
Early detection is very important and so is education and understanding of your body!
Breast Cancer is by far the most common cancer in women all around the world. Diagnosis of this aggressive disease is not just depressing for the patient but also for the family, it steals away all your joys. But the reassuring news is it is TREATABLE and MANAGEABLE when picked up at early stages.
Finding breast cancer early and getting cancer treatment at earliest are the two most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. 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. Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a 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.
I would like to share the screening tools for women with average breast cancer risk.
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 risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30.
Screening guidelines are as follow:
1.Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
2.Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
3.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.
All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.
Clinical breast exams are not recommended for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age.
Now commonly sort out question is what is mammogram actually? Mammograms are low-dose x-rays of the breast. Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most successful. A mammogram can often find breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop. Results from many decades of research clearly show that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early, are less likely to need aggressive treatment like surgery to remove the breast (mastectomy) and chemotherapy, and are more likely to be cured.
Research has not shown a clear benefit of regular physical breast exams done by either a health professional (clinical breast exams) or by women themselves (breast self-exams). There is very little evidence that these tests help find breast cancer early when women also get screening mammograms. Most often when breast cancer is detected because of symptoms (such as a lump), a woman discovers the symptom during usual activities such as bathing or dressing. Women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and should report any changes to a health care provider right away.