Breast Cancer Screening
When breast cancer is found and treated early, a woman has more treatment options and a better chance for a cure. Screening tests identify signs of breast cancer that might otherwise go unnoticed.
The following screenings are recommended as a routine part of every woman’s health care.
Your healthcare provider can show you how to effectively examine your own breasts. When you are familiar with how your breasts normally feel, you are much more likely to identify lumps or other changes that may be symptoms of breast cancer. If you notice any changes, see your health-care provider. Usually breast changes are not cancer, but it’s important to find out for sure.
Clinical Breast Examination
This physical exam is performed by a health-care provider, such as a doctor or a nurse practitioner, often as a part of a woman’s annual check-up. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women in their 20s and 30s have a clinical breast exam every three years and that women age 40 or older have a clinical breast exam every year.
A mammogram uses X-rays to produce an image of the breast and to detect abnormalities in the breast that may be too small to see or feel. On average, mammograms detect breast cancer in 80 to 90 percent of women who have the disease but don’t have any symptoms. The ACS recommends that women age 40 or older have a screening mammogram every year. For women with a 20 percent or greater lifetime risk for breast cancer, ACS recommends having an annual screening breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan in addition to a mammogram. Talk with your health-care provider about your risk.
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) was the first in the region offer digital mammography, a technique that captures X-ray images digitally for a more accurate diagnosis. Studies have shown that digital mammography detects up to 28 percent more cancers than traditional mammography. For more information about mammography at SCCA, check out the digital mammography section of our Web site.
The Breast Health Clinic provides thorough and concise evaluations of breast abnormalities, develops individual screening plans for people at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer, and treats benign breast problems as well as breast cancer.