Some types of cancers can be found before they cause any symptoms. The process of checking for cancer, before it causes symptoms, is called a cancer screening. Cancer screenings can help find cancer in the earlier stages when the cancer is most often easier to treat. For this reason, there are screening recommendations. Unfortunately, no single test can detect all types of cancers, and some cancers don’t have any type of screening.
Breast cancer is one of the types of cancer women can be screened for. Most women should follow the general recommendations for breast cancer screening listed below. If you have a family history of breast cancer or have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, you may need to get screenings at a younger age or more often. Talk with your health-care provider about the best time to start breast cancer screening.
Types of Breast Cancer Screenings
There are two types of breast cancer screenings:
- Mammograms. Mammograms can find cancers that may be too small to feel during a breast exam. If the mammogram shows anything of concern, the doctor may recommend a follow-up exam.
- Breast exams. Breast exams, whether done by a health-care provider or by yourself, can be another form of breast cancer screening. It is important to know your body so you can recognize changes that may occur. If you do notice changes, talk with a health-care provider. Please keep in mind, not all breast lumps or changes are cancer. But it is best to share any concerns with a health-care provider.
Huntsman Cancer Institute experts recommend the following breast cancer screenings for these age groups:
Women age 40 and older:
- A mammogram each year
- A breast exam by a health-care provider each year
- Women ages 20-39:
- A breast exam by a health-care provider every 2-3 years
- Remember, always talk with your doctor about the cancer screenings that are right for you based on your age, family medical history, and personal medical history.