What You Can Do – Breast Screening
Since there are so many risk factors that we have no control over, early detection of breast cancer is our best line of defense. Breast screening is regular examination of a woman’s breast to find breast cancer early. If you do have breast cancer, finding it early increases your chances of better treatment outcomes.
Clinical breast exam: A clinical breast exam is an examination performed by a qualified healthcare professional, often part of an annual check-up. If this is not routinely done, ask your physician/gynecologist to include it.
Mammogram: A mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray picture of the breast that can detect cancerous lumps so small they cannot be felt by touch. Overall, mammography is the best breast cancer screening tool available today; it can detect tumours at an early stage, when they are small and most responsive to treatment.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation recommends being breast aware. Being breast aware means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel. That way, if there are any significant changes, you’ll be more likely to notice them and can have them checked by a doctor.
It is possible for breast cancer to develop without any changes that can be easily noticed through breast awareness, which is why breast screening is important.
What is the difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram?
A screening mammogram is a quick, safe and easy way to find problems in a woman’s breast. Two x-ray pictures are taken of each breast. A doctor with special training (radiologist) will look at these x-ray pictures to decide if there is a problem and if the problem may be breast cancer. For most women, the x-ray pictures will show no signs of a problem. The woman will have what is called a normal result.
A diagnostic mammogram is used if there is a breast problem. This kind of mammogram takes a little more time than a screening mammogram because special x-ray pictures have to be taken. A radiologist will sometimes check your x-rays while you wait. A diagnostic mammogram may also be used if you have had a breast implant or if your doctor feels that this type of x-ray is better for you because of a special circumstance.
The Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends:
Every Woman 50 and Over Has a Reason (watch this youtube video here)