Three Steps to Better Breast Health
Every woman's best defense against breast cancer includes a monthly breast self-exam, clinical breast exam by a health care provider and mammograms on the recommended schedule.
1. Breast self-exam
Breast self-exams are easy, fast and could possibly save your life. When you're familiar with what is normal for your breast, you can distinguish changes as soon as they appear. It's vital to do the exam correctly. To learn how to do a self exam, visit www.breastcancer.org and, in the search window, enter "Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam" or click here.
2. Clinical breast exam
The American Cancer Society recommends a clinical breast exam every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and annually for women age 40 and older. A clinical breast exam is done by your doctor, and it's a good time to discuss breast cancer risks.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue. Breasts are compressed between two paddles, and images are taken from two angles. Mammograms can detect cancer as many as three years before it can be felt on a clinical breast exam.
Mammograms may not detect all cancers, that's why self-breast exams are also important. The American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging recommend that women, age 40 and older, should have screening mammograms every year for as long as they are in good health. Women at high risk for breast cancer may need earlier mammograms or additional tests. Talk with your doctor to see if these recommendations are right for you.