Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. All women need to be informed by their healthcare provider about the best screening options for them. When you are told about the benefits and risks of screening and decide with your healthcare provider whether screening is right for you – and if so, when to have it – this is called informed and shared decision-making.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. For many women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. At this time, a mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer for most women.
Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging
A breast MRI uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the breast. MRI is used along with mammograms to screen women who are at high risk for getting breast cancer. Because breast MRIs may appear abnormal even when there is no cancer, they are not used for women at average risk.
Clinical breast exam
A clinical breast exam is an examination by a doctor or nurse, who uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes.
Being familiar with how your breasts look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. These could include changes found during a breast self-exam. You should report any changes that you notice to your doctor or healthcare provider.
Having a clinical breast exam or doing a breast self-exam has not been found to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
Benefits and risks of screening
Every screening test has benefits and risks, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before getting any screening test, like a mammogram.
Benefit of screening
The benefit of screening is finding cancer early, when it’s easier to treat.