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Because 75 to 80 percent of women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors, early detection offers the best hope for surviving the disease. The first step is to understand your risk factors - age, family, and personal history of breast cancer. The next is to follow the early detection guidelines recommended by the American Cancer Society:
Breast Cancer Self Examination - Women should examine their breasts monthly beginning by age 20. Over 90 percent of breast cancers are found by women themselves. But because fewer than one third of women perform regular breast self-examinations (BSEs), these cancers are often found when they are over an inch across. In general, the smaller the lump found, the better a woman's chance of long-term survival.
Physician Examination - An exam by a physician is recommended every three years until age 40, and then every year. This is an important part of an overall physical exam, but only a supplement to monthly breast self-examinations.
Mammography - This examination is recommended once between the ages of 35 and 40 as a baseline (for comparison), and then once a year beginning at age 40. Studies show very high survival rates in women whose breast cancer was first detected by mammography. When a mammogram finds a small breast cancer, usually only the tumor is removed, not the whole breast.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|