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Breast Cancer: The Importance of Early Detection

Breast Cancer: The Importance of Early Detection

Breast cancer is a leading health concern worldwide, affecting millions of people each year. Early detection through regular screenings can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and survival. As we participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we take a look at the various diagnostic screenings available, who should be screened, and when you should be screened.

The Power of Early Detection

Early detection is crucial in the fight against breast cancer. When cancer is detected early, it is generally easier to treat and less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year relative survival rate for women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer is nearly 100%. Regular screenings can help detect cancer at these early stages, underscoring the power of such preventive measures.

Diagnostic Screenings Available

The most common screening tool for breast cancer is mammography. This X-ray of the breast can identify tumors before they are large enough to be felt.

Another tool is breast ultrasound, a procedure that uses sound waves to examine the tissues within the breast. It is often used in conjunction with mammography to provide a more comprehensive view.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used for women at high risk of developing breast cancer due to genetic mutations or other factors. This test uses magnetic fields to capture detailed images of the breast tissue.

Who Should Be Screened and When?

Screening guidelines may vary depending on individual risk factors and professional medical organizations. Generally, the American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer begin yearly mammograms by age 45 and can transition to every two years starting at age 55.

Women with a higher risk, such as those with a family history of breast cancer or certain genetic mutations, should discuss their screening options with a healthcare provider. They may need to start screening earlier and more frequently and may also require additional tests like the breast MRI.

The Benefits of Regular Screenings

Regular screenings can catch breast cancer early when it's most treatable. It can also help identify precancerous conditions, allowing for interventions to prevent cancer from developing.

While screenings can occasionally produce false positives, leading to anxiety and additional testing, the benefits of early detection far outweigh these potential drawbacks.

Get Screened Today

Breast cancer screening is a powerful tool in early detection and treatment. While the decision to screen should be individualized based on risk factors and personal preferences, understanding the importance of these screenings can empower you to make informed healthcare decisions.

At Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital, we have screening services for people of all ages as well as dedicated professionals who take a holistic approach to your healthcare, looking at your risk factors and genetic history to determine the best time for screening for breast cancer. Schedule an appointment with us today or visit us online for more information.