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Cancer Screening Tests for Women: Early Detection Tips

Cancer Screening Tests for Women: Early Detection Tips

Breast cancer is sometimes detected after symptoms show up. The problem is that many women who develop breast cancer often do not show symptoms. It is for this reason that cancer screening tests for women are critical for early detection and treatment.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Before going through the cancer screening tests for women, we need to discuss the symptoms of cancer. Different people may show different symptoms of breast cancer, and others may not even have symptoms at all.

Breast cancer is a disease where the cells that are found in the breast area will suddenly have a surge in growth that is beyond normal. There are several types of cancer that can grow in the breast area, and the type depends on the kind of cells which are turned into cancer. The breast can be divided into three sections:

  • Lobules
  • Parts known as ducts
  • Connective tissues

The lobules are the parts that generate milk. The section known as the ducts are the parts that carry the milk to the nipples, and everything is kept in place by connective tissues. Many cases of breast cancer start either in the lobules or in the ducts.

It is also possible that the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body surrounding the breast area. This spread occurs through the blood vessels.

The common warning signs of cancer in the breast area include the following:

  1. A lump can be found in the breast or the underarm.
  2. A specific part of the breast will thicken.
  3. Some parts of the skin on the breast become irritated.
  4. The skin in the area surrounding the nipples develop flakes.
  5. Pain is experienced around the nipple area.
  6. A discharge that is not milk appears from the nipple. Sometimes the discharge may include blood.
  7. There is a change in the size or appearance of the breast.

Remember, these conditions may happen with other conditions that are not related to breast cancer. What is normal for your breasts may not be normal for other women.

Many things can affect how your breasts look or feel. Getting your period, having children, weight loss, or weight gain are all factors that can have an effect on the appearance of your breasts. Age also has an effect. So, a change in the appearance, size, or shape of your breast should not be a cause for immediate concern.

Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Because not everyone may show symptoms of breast cancer, it is important that you are aware of cancer screening tests for women and methods of detecting breast cancer during its early stages.

Breast cancer screening tests are used to detect cancer cells before they cause symptoms. This means cancer, if it’s present, can be detected during the early stages when there are plenty of treatment options available. Breast cancers that are detected during screening tests are usually smaller. They may also still be confined to the breast area, making treatment easier.

The size of the breast cancer and how wide it has spread are two of the most important factors for effective treatment.

Cancer Screening Tests for Women: Recommendations

Experts have set a number of breast cancer screening recommendations for women. A woman is considered to be of average risk if she has no personal or family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation which increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer, and did not undergo chest radiation therapy before reaching 30 years old.

  1. Women between 40 to 44 years old can choose to undergo mammogram screening once every year.
  2. Women who are 45 to 54 should undergo mammogram screenings once every year.
  3. Older women, aged 55 and above, can switch to screenings every other year, although it does not hurt to do it annually.

These are the recommendations of the American Cancer Society for breast cancer screening tests for women.


Mammograms are cancer screening tests for women that use low doses of x-rays to scan the breast and help identify breast cancer during the early stages. This kind of screening can help identify a growth that will turn into cancer years before symptoms actually appear.

Years of research show that women who undergo mammograms regularly identify breast cancer at earlier stages. And they are less likely to need aggressive forms of treatment.

Mammograms are not perfect. There are cases when a growth will be identified during a mammogram which otherwise would not have caused problems. Still, for most women, that is a lot better than having to undergo more serious forms of treatment.

A recent development called digital breast tomosynthesis or 3D mammography has proven to be more effective and more efficient than traditional mammography.

Breast Exams

Among the cancer screening tests for women is the physical breast exam. This can be done by a doctor in a clinic or by yourself as a self-exam. These exams are highly recommended for older women who face a higher risk of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, there is little evidence that physical exams can effectively identify breast cancer for women who are only at average risk.

Breast MRI

Breast MRI is not used as a screening or diagnostic tool for breast cancer. This exam is used for women who have already been diagnosed with cancer to determine the size of cancer. It also employed to check for similar growths that may have been missed by the mammogram.

Key Takeaways

Breast cancer screening tests for women are all about checking for cancer growth before any symptoms manifest. All women should ask their doctor for the best screening option that is available to them. They should also be informed about the benefits of what proper screening can do.

Learn more about Breast Cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Den Alibudbud Updated Sep 09, 2021
Fact Checked by Vincent Sales