Screening and additional examinations
Mammography is recognized as the most effective way of detecting breast cancer. The PQDCS (Québec breast cancer screening program) invites all women aged 50 to 69 to take advantage of this service every two years.
For women in other age groups, the advantages of mammography are uncertain. These women are advised to discuss the advantages and drawbacks of mammography screening with their doctor.
Breast self examination: not recommended
The breast self examination (BSE) is a method taught to women that involves visually and physically checking their breasts every month to detect signs or lumps that could indicate breast cancer. Studies have shown, however, that BSE alone does not reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer. Women who are taught BSE therefore do not benefit from it as expected. Moreover, BSE leads to additional unnecessary tests - and more surgeries - for women who use it.
Clinical breast exam: not recommended
The clinical breast exam by a health professional every year or every two years is not recommended as a screening method for breast cancer. No study has shown that this method can reduce mortality from breast cancer.
These items result of recommendations made by the following organizations:
Contact your doctor or specialized nurse practitioner immediately if you notice any of the following conditions, even if you had a normal mammogram:
- A lump in one of your breasts.
- Discharge from a nipple (spontaneously on one side).
- Unusual redness, wrinkling, or dimpling or withdrawal of the breast skin (retraction).
- Eczema on the nipple.
In these cases, other testing besides a screening mammogram may be necessary.
If the mammogram shows an abnormality, further tests will be used to arrive at a diagnosis. A variety of examinations are used, depending on the specific situation. The testing that you undergo will be appropriate for your personal case.