Cancer screening is the process of looking for a cancer before signs or symptoms develop. Screening can be a useful preemptive measure in women at high risk for developing breast cancer, as cancer is easiest to treat while it is still small and has not spread to other parts of the body.
Not all types of cancer have a screening procedure. Breast cancer screening is recommended for women at high risk as well as women at average risk between the ages of 50 and 74.
Screening for Breast Cancer
There are three tests that may be used to screen for breast cancer.
Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast that allows doctors to identify tumors. These tumors may be too small to feel during a clinical breast exam. Mammograms may also find ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is a precancer that may or may not turn into cancer at a later date.
Clinical Breast Exam (CBE): An exam performed by a trained doctor. The breast and areas under the arm pits are examined for lumps or any other unusual findings.
MRI: Short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a MRI uses magnets and radio waves to create an image of the inside of the breast. This test is most commonly used for women with a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
The frequency and type of screening test varies depending on a woman’s age and relative level of risk.
Who Should be Screened?
Whether breast cancer screening is right for an individual depends on many different factors. Women at higher risk, such as women who have family members with breast cancer, may benefit the most from early and regular screening. A woman at average risk may not have any additional benefit from early screening, and may also potential overdiagnosis and unnecessary testing.
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women between the ages of 50 and 74 should have a mammography every other year. Women between the ages of 40 and 49 are recommended to make individual decisions about breast cancer screening in consultation with a doctor.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women at higher risk should have a mammogram every year starting at age 30 or as advised by a doctor.
Men should only seek screening for breast cancer if they have an inherited gene mutation or a family history of breast cancer.
Self-screening is a home-based procedure that is no longer recommended. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the way your breasts normally feel. Breast awareness will help you identify when an unexpected change or new lump has occurred.
Speak to your doctor about any changes in your breasts. The earlier that breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated.
Find Us & Get in Touch
Serving Anderson & Greenville SC, and Surrounding Areas
We welcome patients and family from all over the world, but mostly those living within a hundred-mile radius of Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina.
AnMed Health & Blue Ridge Radiation Oncology are charter members of Levine Cancer Institute's cancer care network. Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Cancer Institute aims to build "a cancer institute without walls," by increasing access to specialist consultations, research offerings, program offerings and services to member institutions throughout the Carolinas.