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Breast Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Patient Information [NCI] - Breast Cancer Screening

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Clinical breast exam (CBE)

A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual. It is not known if having clinical breast exams decreases the chance of dying from breast cancer.

Breast self-exams may be done by women or men to check their breasts for lumps or other changes. It is important to know how your breasts usually look and feel. If you feel any lumps or notice any other changes, talk to your doctor. Doing breast self-exams has not been shown to decrease the chance of dying from breast cancer.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in women with a high risk of breast cancer

MRI is a procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI). MRI does not use any x-rays.

MRI is used as a screening test for women who have one or more of the following:

  • Certain gene changes, such as in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
  • A family history (first degree relative, such as a mother, daughter or sister) with breast cancer.
  • Certain genetic syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni or Cowden syndrome.

MRIs find breast cancer more often than mammograms do, but it is common for MRI results to appear abnormal even when there isn't any cancer.

Other screening tests are being studied in clinical trials.

Thermography

Thermography is a procedure in which a special camera that senses heat is used to record the temperature of the skin that covers the breasts. A computer makes a map of the breast showing the changes in temperature. Tumors can cause temperature changes that may show up on the thermogram.

There have been no clinical trials of thermography to find out how well it detects breast cancer or if having the procedure decreases the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Tissue sampling

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