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Early Detection

This year, more than 182,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common type of cancer among women. Early detection is imperative for properly treating breast cancer.

Screening Tests

There are many screening tests for detecting breast cancer early and, depending on your age, you should be having them done on a regular basis.

  • Self-exam: By the age of 20, you should start doing monthly self-exams. These exams allow you to become familiar with your breasts and quickly detect any lumps or irregularities.
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE): A clinical breast exam is similar to a self-exam, but it is performed by your doctor. During the procedure, the doctor will look for any lumps, changes, rashes, redness, dimples and any other abnormal changes. Start getting CBEs in your 20s. Women in their 20s and 30s should have this procedure done every three years. Women over 40, should have it done once a year.
  • Mammogram: Unless you have a high risk for breast cancer, you can wait until age 40 for a mammogram. This procedure takes an X-ray of your breast and can detect cancer two years before a tumor can be felt. If you are at high risk for breast cancer, start getting this procedure in your 30s.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Understanding the risks is also important for catching breast cancer early. Risk factors include:

  • Being over age 50
  • Having a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, especially at a young age
  • Have a personal history of breast cancer in one breast
  • Having certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Having your first child at an older age
  • Never having children

You have to be proactive when it comes to breast cancer. Use screening tests and understand the risks to detect cancer early.

This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to render medical advice.