During the month of October, you might notice more people proudly wearing the color pink to show support for breast cancer survivors and their families. During this month, women are also reminded and encouraged to check in with their doctors for an annual breast cancer screening. Below is a closer look at the effectiveness of breast cancer screenings and the reasons you should include these procedures in your regular medical care.
What screenings detect
There are two types of preventive screenings used for the early detection of breast cancer. The first is a clinical breast exam, in which the doctor will feel the breasts and underarms for lumps or hardening of the tissue that could indicate breast cancer. This procedure is recommended at three-year intervals for women from the ages of 20-39. Mammograms are more advanced procedures that utilize X-ray imaging to take pictures of the breast tissue. A mammogram may detect potentially cancerous masses that may not be felt during a clinical breast exam. These tests should be performed annually for women over the age of 40.
How diagnoses are made
It is important to recognize that screening procedures differ from diagnostic procedures. When a screening procedure produces abnormal results, further imaging and biopsies will be used to make an accurate, detailed diagnosis. If malignant cells are present, this diagnosis will include the staging of the cancer.
What difference does screening make
Screening facilitates early cancer detection before symptoms appear in later stages of breast cancer. When breast cancer is diagnosed early on, treatment options are broader and typically more effective. Early stages of breast cancer are defined by the isolation of the cancer in the breast tissue or lymph nodes of the chest. As the cancer progresses, it spreads throughout the body, making the prognosis less promising for patients.
If you have not had your annual mammogram or clinical breast exam, you can find the breast care you need with Westside Regional Hospital in Plantation, FL. You can connect with us by visiting our website or by calling our Consult-A-Nurse healthcare referral line at (954) 473-6600.