Early detection increases treatment options and saves lives. The American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation recommended screening guidelines are referred to as a triad, or 3-step approach to early detection of breast cancer.
Step 1. Monthly performance of breast self-examination (BSE). Becoming familiar with the look and feel of your breasts will help determine what is normal for you and help you recognize a change.
Step 2. Clinical breast examination (CBE) by a healthcare provider at least every 3 years beginning at age 20 and annually after age 40.
Step 3. Annual screening mammogram beginning at age 40. Women under age 40 with a family history of breast cancer or other concerns about personal risk should consult with a health care provider about individual risk assessment and when to begin mammography.
This plan will help you take an active role in your breast health. Early detection and treatment offer the best chance of surviving breast cancer. When breast cancer is confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is over 95%.
It is not enough to simply begin having your mammograms at age 40. You must make a lifelong commitment, to yourself and your breast health, to continue annual mammography. By continuing to have your annual mammograms, subtle changes in your breast tissue can be identified sooner. A breast cancer that is not diagnosed until it is large enough to be felt may have already spread to other parts of your body. Breast cancer that has spread outside of the breast tissue is much more difficult to treat.
Early detection is your best protection.