Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It is one of the leading causes of death in women worldwide. The likelihood of breast cancer is related to a number of factors such as age, hormone use and a family history of breast cancer. Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 161,730 new cases will be diagnosed in 2022 and 40,610 people will die from this disease (will not include women who were treated for breast cancer but died from other causes).
The first step to take is to get screened for breast cancer. The screening process can be done by mammography or ultrasound. Mammograms can detect breast cancer at an early stage, but it does have its limitations because it cannot detect the disease if there are no lumps or tumor cells in the breast tissue. Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms, so the disease can be identified at a later stage when it has spread to other areas of the body. Mammograms have a higher success rate than ultrasound when it comes to detecting breast cancer early on.
Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast years before a patient or physician can feel them. Mammograms are better at finding breast cancer than ultrasound. Mammograms can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to get a mammogram done and are painless.
Ultrasound imaging of the breast uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It is used to help diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities found during a physical exam, or on a mammogram or breast MRI. Ultrasounds can detect lumps and tumors that mammograms cannot. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive, and does not use radiation.
It is recommended that all women between 40-49 years old should get screened for breast cancer every year, but if you are at high risk for developing this disease then you should get screened more often than once per year (every 6 months). Women between 50-74 years old should get screened every 2 years and those over age 75 should only require screening when they are experiencing symptoms. It is highly recommended that women with a history of breast cancer or genetic mutations should also be screened more frequently than those without. You may need a follow-up exam. If so, your doctor will explain why. Sometimes a follow-up exam further evaluates a potential issue with more views or a special imaging technique. Follow-up exams are often the best way to see if treatment is working or if a problem needs attention.