Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Breast Cancer Screening Methods

First, I'd like to thank my dear friend Ilene for my very first donation. I no longer have a goose egg by my name! Ilene has a fun blog you should check out, The Ferret Online.

Training's going well. I logged 18 miles last week and am hoping for 25 this week.

Help me reach my goal for the Washington, DC Breast Cancer 3-Day!

Last week we talked about some of the risks for breast cancer. I have a few red flags on that list, but I can't have a mammogram until one year after I finished breastfeeding Kale. I'm off for my yearly check-up today and will definitely have a clinical check. Below are three methods used to screen for breast cancer:

Mammogram — A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. It is done with a special X-ray machine designed for this purpose. The picture is stored on film (standard) or into a computer (digital). A mammogram can find many cancers before they can be felt.

Clinical breast exam — A breast exam by a health care provider should be part of your regular medical checkup. If it is not, ask for it. A clinical breast exam includes a visual examination and carefully feeling the entire breast and underarm area. If you are 40 or older, schedule your mammogram close to the time of your clinical breast exam.

Breast self-exam (BSE) — Is a tool that may help you learn what is normal for you. BSE includes looking at and feeling your breasts. Many women have a pattern of lumpiness in their breasts, which is normal. But if you feel any change or a new lump in your breasts or underarms, ask your doctor to examine the area. (For step-by-step BSE instructions, go to

Believe it or not, the best time to check for breast cancer is when your breasts feel fine. If you find cancer early, there are more treatment options and a much better chance for survival. Mammography is the best screening method used today to find breast cancer early. However, it is not perfect. But, when mammography is combined with clinical breast exam your chances for finding cancer are even greater.


Mandi said...

You missed an important screening method for those of us that have smaller breasts or that fall into the category of exceptionally high risk (or those of us that are lucky enough to fall into both).

If you have not had a child, your breasts are small, or you fall at high risk you NEED to talk to your doctor about an MRI of the chest vs a mammogram.

How young should start getting MRIs? Ask your doctor. If the risk is high enough they could recommend you start as early as 20!