Early Detection

Early detection is the key to beating breast cancer. If found early there are more treatment options and a better chance for survival.

Breast cancer screening includes mammograms, clinical breast exams, and in some cases, breast MRIs. American Cancer Society Screening Guidelines include:

  • Yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Clinical breast exam about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year.

This includes women who:
  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (such as the Claus model - see below).
  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves.
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years.
  • Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes.

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