Breast cancer affects millions of women each year, and the National Cancer Institute estimates that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. However, early detection can lead to successful treatment. The American Cancer Society recommends the following early breast cancer detection tips for women without symptoms:
Mammograms: Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year as long as they are in good health. While mammograms aren’t effective at finding all cancers, they are the standard in breast cancer detection.
Clinical breast exams (CBE): Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of their regular doctor visit, preferably every three years. At age 40, annual CBEs are suggested. It’s also recommended to have a clinical breast exam shortly before a mammogram to use the exam to learn what your breasts look and feel like.
Breast self-exam (BSE): BSE is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women doing BSE should have their doctor or nurse check their method to make sure they are doing it right. If you do a BSE on a regular basis, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Then you can more easily notice changes. The most important thing is to see a doctor right away if you notice any of these changes: a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk. But remember that most of the time these breast changes are not cancer.