Breast Cancer Screening Frequency
Undergoing any of the breast exam procedures may be taxing, but the benefits can be life saving. The earlier a cancerous lump is discovered, the higher is its chance of getting healed. How often should women go through breast screening exams?
According to the U.S. Institute for Clinical Systems Integration, women between the ages 35 and 40 with high risk factors should undergo baseline mammogram. High risk factors include a family history of breast cancer and old age among others. On the other hand, all women between the ages 40 and 49 should undergo mammogram at least once every 2 years. Furthermore, women ages 50 and above should have an annual mammogram. Other experts, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, advocates those women under the age of 40 and who do not have any breast cancer risk factors do not necessarily need to have breast cancer exams by their doctor. Additionally, they say that women with no risk factors do not need to go for a mammogram until age 50. They also say that older women ages 75 and above with no prior history of cancer can forego mammogram screening.
Another respected organization, the American Cancer Society, recommends that women should commence mammogram exams every one to two years by the age of 40. The U.S. Institute for Clinical Systems Integration makes a similar recommendation. After comparing the various researches made around the world regarding the benefits and harms of mammogram performed to women below the age of 50, the National Cancer Institute concluded that there are no clear benefits or harms a woman can get from undergoing mammogram before reaching 50 years old. It is therefore important to discuss these matters with your doctor to clear things up. Whether you will undergo mammogram or not, it is good to remember that routine self-breast exam and clinical breast exam are important steps in the early detection of breast cancer.
It is recommended that a breast self-exam, or BSE, be routinely done every month. This will greatly increase the likelihood of detecting breast cancer in its early stages. A monthly breast self-exam is even recommended by the American Cancer Society for all women ages 19 and above. This procedure is fairly easy to do and most women without any disability can perform the test in the privacy of their own room or in the bathroom. Around menstruation time, a woman’s breast may feel lumpy, tender and swollen. These are normal occurrences. If you perform a monthly exam on your breast, you will develop familiarity with its feel, shape and size. This familiarity will enable you to detect any changes should these happen. While doing the breast self-exam, it is important to take notice some new and developing occurrences:
1. New lumps and changes in the size and shape of already existing lumps.
2. You should always be keen in looking for changes in the shape and breast contour including any unusual swelling.
3. Skin color and texture changes in your breast are also important signs.
4. Look for skin rash, dimpling, crusting and puckering especially around the nipple area.
5. Fluid leaking from the nipple should also be noticed.
Finally, even if you develop any of the above signs, do not get emotionally upset. These do not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. Most breast lumps are not even cancerous. Always inform your doctor about your discovery so that more tests can be done to rule out breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Screening Frequency