Breast cancer screenings can’t stop cancer from happening but can make it easier to treat due to early detection.
What options do you have for breast cancer screenings and when is the right time to get tested?
Breast cancer screening options
Women have multiple options to stay on top of their health in the fight against breast cancer. These options include:
Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast tissue which is believed to be the best method for detecting early-stage breast cancer (before a tumor is big enough to be felt or cause symptoms).
- Benefit: Regular mammograms can lower your risk of dying due to breast cancer.
- What you need to know: Mammograms sometimes miss certain types of cancers. This is called a “false negative”.
Breast MRI: This stands for magnetic resonance image. Magnets and radio waves are used to capture images of the breast tissue.
- Benefit: Breast MRIs are used in combination with mammograms for women with a high-risk of breast cancer.
- What you need to know: Whereas mammograms may give a “false negative”, MRIs may give a “false positive” – showing an abnormality where none is actually present.
Clinical breast exam: A doctor or nurse feels for lumps or other potential changes in the breast tissue using only their hands.
- Benefit: Women can learn from their healthcare practitioner how to perform self-exams at home.
- What you need to know: Neither clinical nor self-exams at home have not been associated with a lesser risk of dying from breast cancer.
Why you need to stay informed
Talk to your doctor about which screening option they recommend for you. Make sure to ask about potential risks and benefits and decide with your doctor which screening option is right for you and when to have it. Informed consent and shared decision-making are essential tools in the fight against breast cancer.