Doctors recommend women should get mammograms every year starting at age 40 unless they have a condition or family history that requires earlier or more frequent screening. Mammograms are often scheduled to coincide with a woman's gynecological wellness exam. The gynecologist will be able to determine the desired frequency of the tests by reviewing the patient's medical history as well as their family medical history.
Self-breast exams are extremely effective at helping women to fight breast cancer. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important. Although mammograms find a large portion of the lumps and cysts, they are only performed once a year. A self-breast exam can be performed on a monthly basis. If a woman detects a lump during a self-breast exam, it allows them to schedule a mammogram and get a head start on the treatment plan before it turns into a major health issue. The earlier a lump is found, the more treatment options the patient has available to them. Early detection can also prevent full mastectomies or invasive forms of treatment. If you are unsure of how to perform a self-breast exam, please ask your provider or go to this website for instruction. http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
If a lump is found during a self-breast exam, the first thing to do is notify the doctor. Typically the doctor will then perform an exam in the office and make a decision on ordering a mammogram or ultrasound for further evaluation. Once the imaging has been performed, the doctor and patient can go over the results to determine what steps should be taken next. If the lump is found to be benign, it will eventually go away on its own. If the lump is in a position where it is causing the patient pain, it can be easily removed during an outpatient procedure. If the lump is suspicious for cancer, then the doctor will refer you to a breast cancer specialist for probable surgery.
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