Clinical Breast Exam
Unless you have a family history of cancer or other factors that place you at high risk, the American Cancer Society recommends having clinical breast exams once every three years until age 40. After that, the American Cancer Society recommends having a yearly clinical exam.
During this exam, your doctor examines your breasts for lumps or other changes. He or she may be able to feel lumps you miss when you examine your own breasts and will also check for enlarged lymph nodes in your armpit (axilla).
A mammogram, which uses a series of X-ray images of your breast tissue, is currently the best imaging technique for detecting tumors before you or your doctor can feel them. For that reason, the American Cancer Society has long recommended screening mammography for all women over 40.
Two types of mammograms include:
Screening mammograms are performed on a regular basis — about once a year — to check your breast tissue for any changes since your last mammogram.
Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram to evaluate a breast change detected by you or your doctor.
Yet mammograms aren’t perfect. A certain percentage of breast cancers — sometimes even lumps you can feel — don’t show up on X-rays (false-negative result). The rate is higher for women in their 40s. That’s because women of this age and younger tend to have denser breasts, making it more difficult to distinguish abnormal from normal tissue.
At other times, mammograms may indicate a problem when none exists (false-positive result). This can lead to unnecessary biopsies, to fear and anxiety, and to increased health care costs. The skill and experience of the radiologist reading the mammogram also have a significant effect on the accuracy of the test results. In spite of these drawbacks, however, most experts agree mammography is the most reliable screening test for most women.
****We offer BRACA ANALYSIS testing at our office.
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