Tips on Early Detection When it comes to diagnosing any cancer, detection during the early stages of the disease offers the best chances for successful treatment. Various screening measures are vital in helping doctors identify cancers as early as possible, improving the long term outcomes of these life threatening conditions. Following the tips below can help you detect a breast cancer at an earlier stage
- Know your body. Women ages 20 and older should perform breast self-exams regularly. Ask your primary care physician or gynecologist about the best methods for performing a breast self-exam. Always report any changes you notice in your breast health to a doctor right away.
- Women ages 40-74 should have a mammogram every year. A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, is the most important screening test for diagnosing breast cancer. Mammograms can identify cancers so small they would not be palpable on a physical exam for up to two years.
- Don’t put off screening because of the discomfort. Although mammograms aren’t comfortable, they shouldn’t be painful. Scheduling your appointment after your monthly period and taking over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen before your mammogram may reduce discomfort. Discuss past experiences and concerns with your mammography technologist so they can work with you to improve your level of comfort during this procedure.
- Know your risks. Tell your doctor if any of your family members have a history of breast cancer or other types of cancer.
- Reduce your risks. Exercise, reduce your alcohol intake, avoid smoking, reduce your weight, and improve your nutrition – all of these lifestyle measures can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.