What is the importance of clinical breast examination?

Breast Cancer: Early Detection and Overcoming Limitations of Mammography

Breast cancer is a prevalent disease with one in eight women estimated to develop it during their lifetime. Advancements in screening modalities, particularly mammography, have significantly improved early detection and treatment. If diagnosed early, breast cancer has a high cure rate of up to 99%. However, mammography has limitations, especially for those with dense breasts.

Mammography Limitations

While mammography sensitivity can reach up to 90%, this number decreases in individuals with more than 50% fibroglandular tissue (dense breasts). The masking effect of the dense tissue can reduce mammography’s sensitivity, leading it down to as low as the 60s. To address this issue,

Importance of Self-Examination and Regular Check-ups

Self-examination is crucial for early detection. Women should examine their breasts monthly, a few days after menstruation if still having periods. Moreover, annual exams by trained medical professionals or dedicated breast care nurses are essential. During these appointments, the medical professional checks your breasts and underarms (axilla). It’s important to note that not all cancers will be detected on mammograms, making physical examinations vital.

Additional Testing

If an abnormality is detected during a physical examination but the mammogram is negative, additional testing such as ultrasound and MRI may be necessary to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Regular self-examinations and annual check-ups in combination with advanced imaging techniques can help overcome mammography limitations and increase the chances of early detection and successful treatment of breast cancer.

  • April 23, 2024