Why and when should a woman get screened for Breast Cancer?

By Priyanka Varma, Barbara Guido

BURLINGAME, Calif. Oct 19th, 2021

The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast [1].

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of death in women. 1 out of 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime [2]. Breast Cancer diagnosed at an early stage, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat, and has a better prognosis [3]. Hence, Breast Cancer screening tools like a mammogram, which can often detect the cancer before it gets symptomatic, play a significant role in the breast cancer prevention and management. 

The consensus on when to start the screening for Breast Cancer varies. While the American Cancer Society recommends offering breast cancer screening at age 40 to 44 years, the US Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommends starting the screening at 50 years of age with a choice of biennial mammograms at 40-49 years of age.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends for the women to discuss their options of when to start screening (annually or biennially) with their primary care provider [4].


Bibliography:

  1. Breast Cancer Screening (PDQ®)–Patient Version
    - National Cancer Institute
  2. How Common is Breast Cancer?
    - American Cancer Society
  3. An Update on Cancer Deaths in the United States
    - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  4. Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women (cdc.gov)
    - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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