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Can breast cancer be detected early?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
Early detection may be your best defense against breast cancer. The earlier you can detect breast cancer, the better your chance for a cure. Regular mammograms are the key. Self-exams and, if your doctor recommends it, clinical breast exams also can be helpful.

Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel, and watch for any changes. If any lumps or other changes appear, see a doctor. The American Cancer Society recommends that average-risk women should start getting annual mammograms at age 45, then switching to every other year at 55. Some women at high risk for breast cancer may may need to start at a younger age, and may also need MRI screening in addition to mammograms. 
Male Doctor Sitting with Woman
Breast cancer can be detected early, before there are any symptoms and before a lump can be felt in the breast. The screening test for breast cancer is a special x-ray called a mammogram. Currently, screening mammograms are recommended for women ages 50 to 74, usually every year or two. If you or your doctor has a concern about breast cancer, a mammogram may be done sooner or more frequently.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.