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Breast Cancer Screening and Detection

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When it comes to breast cancer screening and detection, experts and advocacy groups don't agree on when women should start getting regular breast cancer screening mammograms. Without delving into the controversy, consider these facts:

  1. The lifetime risk (to age 85) of a woman developing breast cancer in 1940 was 5% or one in 20; the risk is now 13.4%, or greater than one in 8.
  2. It is estimated that in 2015, about 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. About 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.
  3. Women who undergo breastcancer screening mammograms have demonstrated significantly reduced deaths from the disease.
  4. The effectiveness of any breastcancer screening program will depend on how often women are screened, compliance with screening recommendations, and the quality of the screening test.

 

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Me and the Girls: Ilene Smith

WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti interviewed breast cancer survivors as part of a series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The series, called “Me & the Girls,” explores the personal stories of these women after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer survivor Ilene Smith, MS, RD, 49, lives in the New York area. In late October 2007, Smith felt a lump in her left breast while on a conference call for work. "I got cold, and so I put my hand under my arm, and I felt the...

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Recommendations for Breast Cancer Screening

The following are American Cancer Society recommendations for breast cancer screening:

  • Breast exam by a health care provider every three years starting at age 20; annual clinical breast exam starting at age 40
  • Annual screening mammography starting at age 40; breast cancer experts don't all agree. When you need a mammogram is a personal decision between you and your doctor.
  • Women in high-risk categories should have screening mammograms every year and typically start at an earlier age. Ultrasound screening can also be given in addition to mammograms. Breast MRI may be used if a woman has a lifetime risk of breast cancer greater than 20%. Discuss the best approach with your doctor.

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on June 28, 2015
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