Regular breast exams are important for women’s health because they can help detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and early detection is critical to successful treatment and survival.
There are two main types of breast exams: clinical breast exams and mammograms. Clinical breast exams are performed by a healthcare provider, and involve a physical exam of the breasts and surrounding tissue to check for lumps, changes in breast size or shape, or other abnormalities. Mammograms are X-rays of the breast tissue and can detect small lumps or other abnormalities that may not be visible during a clinical breast exam.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women receive regular breast exams as follows:
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years.
- Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year.
Women who have a higher risk of breast cancer, such as those with a family history of breast cancer or a personal history of breast cancer, may need to begin screening at an earlier age and/or receive additional screening tests.
In addition to receiving regular breast exams, women can also take steps to monitor their own breast health. This includes performing monthly breast self-exams, which involve checking for lumps, changes in breast size or shape, or other abnormalities. It is important for women to become familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts so they can more easily recognize any changes.
In summary, regular breast exams are an important aspect of women’s health and can help detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Women should follow the recommended screening guidelines for their age and risk level, and should also perform monthly breast self-exams to monitor their own breast health. Any changes or abnormalities should be promptly reported to a healthcare provider for further evaluation.