Breast Cancer Screening
What is Breast Cancer Screening?
Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat.
What is a Breast Cancer Screening Test?
The most common type of screening test is a mammogram which is an X-ray of the breast. For most women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
If you are unable to have a Mammogram for any reason you should discuss other screening options with your Primary Care Doctor.
Who should have a Breast Cancer Screening?
- Women who are 50 to 74 years old should have a mammogram every two years.
- Women who are 40 to 49 years old or 75 years old or older should talk to their doctor about when to start or how often to get a mammogram. The frequency of screening may depend upon underlying risk factors.
Risk factors you cannot change:
- Getting older. Most Breast Cancers are diagnosed in women over 50.
- Genetic mutations. Inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, puts you at a higher risk of developing Breast Cancer.
- Reproductive history. Early menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55.
- Having dense breasts. Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram.
- Personal history of breast cancer. Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time.
- Family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, especially if it is your Mother, Sister or Daughter are at higher risk of Breast Cancer
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts.
Risk factors you can change:
- Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have an increased risk
- Being overweight or obese after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk
- Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy such as estrogen and progesterone taken during menopause create a higher risk
- Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can increase your risk of Breast Cancer.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
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