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.
Breast ExaminationA 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
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.
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