How can I be screened?
If you detect changes in your breasts, your doctor will examine you and enquire about your family history. Your lymph nodes, underarms, and neck lymph nodes will be examined for swelling, pain, or other abnormal conditions. If there are any unusual findings, further tests will be done to confirm the diagnosis, such as an ultrasound or mammogram.
A mammogram is a breast x-ray designed to detect breast abnormalities. A radiographer will position and compress each breast between two flat plates for 10-15 seconds while the x-ray is taken. However, young women tend to have denser breast tissue which makes it harder to detect tumors via a mammogram. It is therefore less effective for women below 40 years of age.
An ultrasound is used to assess the general condition of the breast. It determines whether a lump is a cyst or a solid mass that could be presented and detect if there is swelling in the lymph nodes underarm. Ultrasound testing works by transmitting high-frequency sound waves through the breast. The sound waves bounce off surfaces in the breast, and are recorded as video or photos, which the radiologist can use to make a diagnosis.
What if an abnormality is found?
If a lump or abnormality is found, a small amount of breast tissue will be taken to determine if cancer cells are present. This tissue will then be examined under a microscope and further tests may be requested. For more information on biopsies and further tests, download our breast cancer information booklet from this website or call us on one of our Cancer Fund support centres on 3656 0800.
Should I get screened?
At present, there is insufficient scientific evidence to recommend for or against population-based mammography for local asymptomatic women at average risk. All women who consider breast cancer screening should be adequately informed about the benefits and risks. Women at high risk (e.g. carriers of confirmed BRCA1/2 gene mutations, with family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, etc. #) should seek doctor’s advice for screening methods, frequency and starting age for screening. If you notice anything unusual for your breasts, visit your doctor to discuss the need to arrange a screening.
How can I reduce my risk?#
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy body weight and waist circumference
- Consume less alcohol
Source: #'Prevention and Screening for Breast Cancer Booklet', Department of Health 2016