Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. Three main tests are used to screen the breasts for cancer.
- Mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are the best method to detect breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. If you are age 50 to 74 years, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are age 40–49 years, talk to your doctor about when and how often you should have a screening mammogram.
- Clinical breast exam. A clinical breast exam is an examination by a doctor or nurse, who uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes.
- Breast self-exam. A breast self-exam is when you check your own breasts for lumps, changes in size or shape of the breast, or any other changes in the breasts or underarm (armpit).