Early Detection

Regular breast self-exams are important, but this type of exam cannot replace regular screening mammograms. An abnormal growth, or lump, often must grow to the size of a pea before it can be felt by touch. Mammograms can detect an abnormal growth up to two years before it can be felt by touch.

When breast cancer is found early, there are more treatment options and a better chance for a cure. According to the National Cancer Institute, when breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent.    

Should I Be Screened?

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths among U.S. women. It can occur in both men and women, but is very rare in men.

Newly updated guidelines released from the American Cancer Society reflect the best thinking on breast cancer screening for women at average risk of breast cancer.

American Cancer Society recommendations:

  • Women with an average risk of breast cancer should begin yearly mammograms at age 45.
  • Women should be able to start the screening as early as age 40, if they choose. It’s always a good idea to start talking to your healthcare provider at age 40 about when you should begin screening.
  • At age 55, women should have a mammogram every other year – though women who want to keep having yearly mammograms should be able to do so.
  • Regular mammograms should continue for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Breast exams, either from a medical provider or self-exams, are no longer recommended.

Women with a personal or family history of breast cancer or known BRCA1/2 genetic mutation may need to begin screening earlier. These women should consult their health care provider to assess risk and to develop a personalized screening plan.

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