Breast Cancer – The Importance Of Screening And Self Examination

breast cancer screening

by Femita

It is estimated that 10 to 13 percent of all women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Three-quarters of the victims will fully recover, but it’s still one of the most important causes of death in women worldwide.  No surprise that the mere possibility of being diagnosed with breast cancer scares us and brings up a lot of questions. Hopefully you’ll find some of the answers below.

Is breast cancer hereditary?

Certain genetic components have been identified to increase the risk of the disease. About 1 in 5 breast cancers can be described as familial breast cancer.

From what age can breast cancer develop?

75% of all breast tumors occur in women 50 and over. For women who are not a victim of heredity, breast cancer is uncommon under 35.

Has breast screening reduced death rates from breast cancer?

Scientific studies show that the screening of women between 50 and 69 reduces death rate with no less than 28 percent.

When is it recommended to get a mammogram?

Generally it is agreed upon that most women don’t need a mammogram until they reach 50. Most doctors and specialists recommend mammograms every two years for women who are 50 to 69 years old. This only applies to women who are not considered high risk due to familial history of the disease. While clinical breast exams may detect tumors around half an inch in diameter, a mammogram can detect a tumor at half this size.


Why shouldn’t breast screening start until 50?

Most breast cancers occur in women 50 and up and research has shown that only screening from that age reduces breast cancer mortality rates. Besides, older breasts have less glandular tissue which makes it easier to spot irregularities. Biennial mammograms suffice because tumors grow slowly in that age group.

What’s the reason for not screening women above 70?

Actually women over 70 have more breast tumors, but these are generally not the cause of death. Women in their eighties may die with breast cancer, they rarely die from breast cancer.

Can mammography also cause cancer?

Radiation exposure from mammography can cause DNA damage and cancer. This is also the reason why radiation doses are regulated and kept as low as possible. Breast screening causes about 1 tumor for every 50 that are detected with the same method.

How important is self-examination?

Women who routinely perform breast self-exams can detect a tumor when it is about 1/2 inch in size, while lumps that are accidently discovered are 1 inch on average. This makes no difference in chance of survival, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a good thing for women to know their breasts so that changes in shape or skin tone are easily noticed.

What can I do to prevent breast cancer?

Lifestyle is an important factor in the development of breast cancer and the prime reason why breast cancer incidence is higher in the Western world. The best piece of advice we can give you is to get enough physical exercise eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish. If there is a family history of breast cancer it is not a bad idea to visit your doctor for more information. In any case, women 50 and up should always get a screening every two years.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Selma December 6, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Breast cancer is SCARY stuff, especially if it runs in the family like with me. My grandmother and mother both died from the disease, and my aunt has only just been diagnosed with cancer. It’s so unfair because she always watched her food, lifestyle etc. Sometimes makes me wonder what the words ‘God’ and ‘justice’ really mean….


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