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Screening for Breast Cancer

Screening for breast cancer is the testing of women for abnormal tissue or cancerous developments even in the absence of any symptoms. The two primary methods of screening for breast cancer are physical breast examinations and mammograms.

  • Women aged 40 and older should have a screening mammogram and a clinical breast examination (CBE) by a health care professional every year. The CBE should be scheduled close to and preferably before the scheduled mammogram.
  • Women between the ages of 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast examination by a health professional every 3 years.
  • Women aged 20 or older should perform breast self-examination every month. By doing the exam regularly, you get to know how your breasts normally feel, and you can more readily detect any change.

Breast Examination

A clinical breast examination is conducted by a doctor or other health professional in addition to a woman's own self-examination. The clinical breast examination may be conducted during a routine physical exam.

There may be certain changes in the breast that take place as cancer grows in the breast, including

  • a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area;
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast;
  • nipple discharge or tenderness, or the nipple pulled back (inverted) into the breast;
  • ridges or pitting of the breast (the skin looks like the skin of an orange); or
  • a change in the way the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple looks or feels (for example, warm, swollen, red, or scaly).
The doctor will carefully examine the breasts and under the arms for lumps or other abnormalities that may be signs of cancer.

Mammogram

In order to screen for cancer that may not be detectible by clinical breast examination, a physician should also order regular screening mammograms.

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. A mammogram can show small deposits of calcium in the breast. Although most calcium deposits are benign, a cluster of very tiny specks of calcium (called microcalcifications) may be an early sign of cancer. A mammogram can also detect masses and cysts. This test may thus find tumors that are too small to be felt during a breast examination.

When a Breast Examination or Mammogram Shows Abnormal Results

If a lump or other abnormality is found as a result of a breast examination or a mammogram, a full cancer diagnosis work-up is appropriate.




Law Office of Joseph A. Hernandez, P.C.
675 VFW Parkway #312
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Phone: (781) 461-9400
Toll free: (866) 461-9400
Email: Free-Consultation@BreastCancerLaw.com
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