Breast Cancer

“Mammography has clearly led to a decrease in breast cancer deaths.” — Karen Daily, D.O.

Dig_Mamm_2Signs and symptoms: Breast cancer is typically detected when patients or their physicians detect a lump either during a breast exam or a mammogram.

Who is at high risk?: People who have a mother, sister or aunt who has had breast cancer are at high risk, as are those who have a mutation of the BRCA gene.

Screening techniques: When it comes to the breast, the gold standard for detecting cancer is the digital mammogram, says Karen Daily, D.O., a physician with the UF Health Breast Center. Other techniques, such as MRI, are used in addition to the digital mammogram to help detect cancer in women who are at high-risk for the disease. Within the UF Health Breast Center, mammograms are reviewed by breast radiologists.

Recommendations: First, know your family history, Daily says. Know whether you have any first-degree relatives (sisters, your mother or aunts) who have had breast cancer, and most importantly, find out how old they were when they were diagnosed. The younger your relative was when she was diagnosed is a stronger risk factor for you. Screening recommendations vary for women under 50 so talk to your doctor. Your risk factors affect how often screening will be required for you. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening beginning at age 40.

Controversy: Until 2009, recommendations called for women to get routine mammograms beginning at age 40. But that year the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendation for routine mammograms to begin at age 50, drawing outcry from some physicians and advocacy groups. Research on the necessity of routine mammograms before age 50 has been mixed, so experts say it’s a decision you should discuss with your own doctor in light of your own risks.

Below we have a cancer-by-cancer breakdown of screening recommendations.

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