Tests for Breast Cancer
Finding breast cancer early is important. The earlier it is found, the better the chances treatment will work.
Clinical Breast Exams
A clinical breast exam (CBE) is done as part of your regular physical exam. A CBE should be done at least every three years for women 20 to 39 years old. After 40, women should have a CBE every year.
Breast Self Exams
You should know how your breasts look normally and tell your doctor if you notice any changes. Set a timetable for your breast self exam at set times; every month is recommended.
If you see or feel any of these changes, tell your doctor right away:
- A lump or swelling
- Skin soreness or dimpling
- Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- Redness or scaliness of the nipple or skin
- Discharge from the nipple, except when breast feeding
A mammogram is an X-ray that takes a picture of the inside of the breast. This test may show signs of breast cancer before it can be felt on examination. It can also show whether a finding on exam is likely to be cancer or not.
- Age 50 to 70—A mammogram every other year, although some doctors may order one every year.
- Women younger than 50 but who have risk factors for breast cancer should talk to their doctor about mammograms.
Before you visit your doctor, read these tips to ensure that you will receive a quality mammogram.
If something unusual shows up in a clinical breast exam or screening mammogram, your doctor might order more tests, such as:
- Genetic testing and counseling