Many women wonder what protocols they should follow for appropriate breast care, especially due to the recent changes and varying guidelines of many leading healthcare organizations. Breast cancer can be detected in a variety of ways, so we recommend you utilize each type of breast exam to best manage breast health.
- Breast Self-Exams – Recommended once per month. Use your period as a guideline. Accuracy is improved if you check yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are at their least swollen and tender. If you are going through menopause or post-menopausal, choose one day of the month to plan on doing your breast exam every month. Speak to your physician about the appropriate way to perform a breast self-exam.
- Clinical Exam – A clinical breast exam is performed by your doctor at your annual well-woman visit, everyone one to three years, starting at age 20 and every year starting at age 40. A clinical breast exam may be recommended more frequently if you have a strong family history of breast cancer.
- Mammography – A breast examination and mammography performed by your physician is still recommended as part of the period health examination of women, especially those with known risk factors for breast cancer. Depending on your age and family history, mammography frequency will vary. Mammography is available at Jackson Healthcare for Women.
The following are warning signs of breast cancer, courtesy of The Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Due to the regular use of mammography screening, most breast cancers in the U.S. are found at an early stage, before warning signs appear. However, not all breast cancers are found through mammography.
The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. The most common signs are:
- A change in the look or feel of the breast OR
- A change in the look or feel of the nipple OR
- Nipple discharge
If you have any of the warning signs described above, contact your physician for an appointment.