|Updated: 4/11/2007 4:45 pm
||Published: 4/11/2007 4:45 pm
Women should follow a three-point breast cancer detection program including monthly breast self-exam, an annual breast exam by a healthcare professional, and mammography (muh-mah-gra-fee). Most breast cancers are first detected by women themselves. This is why monthly, breast self-exam is crucial. By learning what is normal for her own breast, a woman is more likely to notice changes or abnormalities. Proper breast self-exam includes looking at and around the breast area, as well as the arm pit for changes; and feeling for lumps, thickening, or nipple discharge. It takes only a few minutes and could be a lifesaver. Annual breast exams by a healthcare professional are also important. Mammograms are special, low-dose X-rays that can detect many breast cancers at a very early stage before they can be felt. The American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram every year or two from age 40 to 50, and one a year after age 50. Women with a family history of breast cancer should ask their doctor if they need a more frequent monitoring plan. For more information about breast cancer detection, consult your healthcare provider.