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What Breast Cancer Screening Test is Recommended for Me?

For women who have never experienced any symptoms for breast cancer, the prospect of screening for the disease can be a confusing challenge. There are several different screening methods available for early detection of breast cancer, but many are recommended for certain demographics, such as age. Additionally, those women who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer have their own recommended set of screening techniques, which may need to be performed more often than those at average or below average risk.

Recommendations for Women over 40

It is recommended by the American Cancer Society for women who are at least 40 years old to receive a mammogram screening annually, as mammography is proven to be the most effective early detection technique currently available. The mammograms should be done every year for as long as the woman is healthy. In addition to mammograms, it is also recommended that women over 40 have clinical breast exams (CBEs) performed annually by a medical professional.

Recommendations for Women in their 20s and 30s

The American Cancer Society recommends that women in this age demographic receive a clinical breast exam at least every three years, if not more often. This screening can be done during a regular health exam by a medical professional. Though not as effective as mammography at detecting cancer in its earliest stages, CBEs can be a great defense against late discovery of breast cancer.

Recommendations for Women who have a high risk of breast cancer

For a woman to be declared at high risk of developing breast cancer, she needs to have at least a 20 percent calculated lifetime risk. For this group of women, who represent nearly 2 percent of all women in the United States, it is recommended that annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screenings be performed in addition to annual mammogram tests. This form of early detection has been argued to be more sensitive than mammography by many, and therefore may be able to detect a tiny tumor that a mammogram cannot. For women with an increased risk under 20 percent, it is suggested that the pros and cons of establishing annual MRI exams be discussed with your doctor. MRI exams aren’t recommended for any women whose lifetime risk is lower than 15 percent.

It should be noted that for all women over the age of 20, self breast exams (SBEs) are encouraged. Although this form of detection is not as effective as mammography or CBEs, they are a great way to notice any subtle changes in the breasts when performed correctly and regularly. SBEs should not be relied on as the only form of early detection, but should be utilized in conjunction with mammograms.

Please request a copy of our free book, I Have Cancer…Should It Have Been Caught Earlier?, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer in Georgia and you feel the cancer was detected late by your doctor or that you received bad medical care. You may also want to contact an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice and breast cancer lawyer at the Dover Law Firm at 770-518-1133 for more information on any available legal options you may have.