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Breast Cancer Prevention (cont.)

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What is the importance of early breast cancer detection?

The various types of cancers behave differently, with distinct rates of growth and patterns of spreading (metastasis) to other areas of the body. Some cancers are "favorable" and treatable, while others are highly aggressive.

Compared to other cancers, breast cancer is on the more treatable end of the spectrum if diagnosed early. It is considered a "favorable" cancer because it can be detected early by breast examination or by mammography. Pancreatic cancer, for example, is on the lethal end of the spectrum of cancers. Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to detect until it is very far advanced.

Studies have clearly shown that the smaller the size of the breast cancer when detected, the better the chance of a surgical cure and long-term survival. The likelihood of a cure is also higher if the cancer is removed before it has spread to lymph nodes and other organs such as the lungs, liver, bones, and brain.

Currently, mammography and breast examinations serve as the foundation for screening for breast cancer. It is extremely important for a woman to have regular breast examinations as well as mammograms to detect early breast cancer.

What are the advantages and limitations of mammography?

Mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast that has the ability to detect a cancer in the breast when it is quite small, long before it may be felt by breast examination. Approximately 85%-90% of all breast cancers are detectable by mammography. Early detection by mammography has reduced the mortality rate from breast cancer by 20% to 30% in women over 50 years of age.

However, some 10% to 15% of breast cancers are not visible on mammography but can be felt on physical examination of the breast. Therefore, a normal mammogram does not exclude the possibility of breast cancer. Breast examination by your health care professional by palpation and visual inspection is also important. During a routine physical checkup, a doctor can conduct an examination of the breast.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2013

Patient Comments

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Breast Cancer Prevention - Mammograms Question: How often do you get a mammogram? How old were you when you received your first screening?
Breast Cancer Prevention - Genetic Tests Question: Does your family have a history of breast or other cancers? Have any relatives been tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes?
Breast Cancer Prevention - Early Detection Question: Were you diagnosed with early stage breast cancer? If so, what was the treatment?
Breast Cancer Prevention - Foods Question: Are you eating certain foods to reduce your risk of breast cancer?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/breast_cancer_prevention/article.htm

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