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21

Oct

Early Detection And Screening of Breast Cancer

Screening for breast cancer is done by mammography. A mammogram is a set of X-rays of the breast to look for abnormal signs or patterns that may suggest cancer and may be seen before a lump can be felt in the breast.

SCREENING MAMMOGRAPHY Screening for breast cancer is done by mammography. A mammogram is a set of X-rays of the breast to look for abnormal signs or patterns that may suggest cancer and may be seen before a lump can be felt in the breast. A mammogram performed in an asymptomatic patient for the detection of breast cancer is called a screening mammogram and a more detailed mammogram performed in a patient with breast symptoms is called a diagnostic mammogram.

CURRENT SCREENING GUIDELINES The current guidelines for screening for breast cancer in women recommend a screening mammogram be performed every year starting at the age 40. Women with a history of breast cancer in their family or those who are taking the hormone estrogen such as menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be at increased risk for breast cancer and may commence screening mammography at a younger age in consultation with their physician.

BENEFITS OF SCREENING Several studies have shown that women who have routine mammograms have 10% to 25% less chances of dying from breast cancer than women who do not have mammograms.

Breast cancer screening also has the advantage of early diagnosis of breast cancer. Diagnosis of breast cancer at an early stage improves patient survival and chances of successful breast conservation therapy avoiding complete removal of the breast or mastectomy.

LIMITATIONS OF SCREENING Mammograms like all tests have limitations. They may miss a cancer in 10% women called a false-negative result. Ultrasound of the breast performed along with mammography is complementary as some cancers maybe detected on ultrasound and not mammography. Alternatively, something which looks like a cancer on mammography may not turn out to be a cancer called a false-positive result. A false-positive mammogram may lead to additional tests or procedures and patient anxiety until the benign nature of the findings is confirmed.

BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION All women starting at the age of 18 years should at the end of their monthly period perform breast self-examination. If they no longer have periods or the periods are irregular a specific day each month should be selected. This examination should be repeated every month even if the woman is pregnant to become familiar with how her breasts normally look and feel. If a lump or any other unusual changes are noticed they should contact their doctor promptly for further evaluation. Breast self-examination is not an acceptable method for screening for breast cancer and should not be considered as an alternative to mammography. Mammography is the only acceptable test for screening of breast cancer and the only screening method known to reduce mortality from breast cancer. LEARN MORE https://gibreastcancer.com/

Dr. Shefali Agrawal, Visiting Consultant, Rosewalk Hospital, New Delhi.

Dr. Rashi Chahal

Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Panchsheel Park

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