Why early detection is so important
Early detection can aid in achieving successful breast cancer treatment. In the early stages, the tumor is still small, and the risk of it having spread throughout the body is significantly lower. There is usually a good chance of recovery. A physical breast examination performed by a doctor followed by a mammography is the most common form of screening. Today, up to 50 percent of cases can be detected this way*.
There are 3 important steps to detect suspicious tissue changes:
Contribute actively to early detection – be aware of and listen to your body. Breast self-examination may help you learn what is normal and to detect any changes. The best time to examine your breasts is one week after your menstrual cycle has begun. If you are postmenopausal, always chose the same day of the month.
Physical examination by a medical practitioner
During a physical examination, your doctor checks your breasts and nipples for swelling, reddening, inflammation, as well as deformations, while examining the texture of the breast tissue. The area around the collar bone, the breast bone, and the armpits are also examined for any lymph nodes. Women age 20 and older should get screened by a gynecologist or physician once a year.
The first diagnostic findings
If the physical examination performed by a physician detects anything suspicious, he/she will refer you for a mammography, an ultrasound scan, and/or magnetic resonance imaging. The medical practitioner will decide which one of the tests is best suitable for you, taking into account your medical history, your circumstances, and personal risk factors.
* Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment (CMDT, 2009)