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A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, along with a clinical breast exam (an exam done by your doctor) is the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. Mammograms have both benefits and limitations. For example, some cancers can’t be detected by a mammogram, but may be detectable by breast exam.

Checking your own breasts for lumps or other changes is called a breast self-exam (BSE). Studies so far have not shown that BSE alone reduces the numbers of deaths from breast cancer. BSE should not take the place of clinical breast exam and a mammogram.

What is the best method of detecting breast cancer?

​What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a safe test used to look for any problems with a woman’s breasts. The test uses a special, low-dose x-ray machine to take pictures of both breasts. The results are recorded on x-ray film or directly onto a computer for a radiologist to examine.

Mammograms allow the doctor to have a closer look for breast lumps and changes in breast tissue. They can show small lumps or growths that a doctor or woman may not be able to feel when doing a clinical breast exam. “Mammography” is the best screening tool that doctors have for finding breast cancer. If a lump is found, your doctor may order other tests, such as ultrasound or a biopsy–a test where a small amount of tissue is taken from the lump and area around the lump. The tissue is sent to a lab to look for cancer or changes that may mean cancer is likely to develop. Breast lumps or growths can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Finding breast cancer early means that a woman has a better chance of surviving the disease. There are also more choices for treatment when breast cancer is found early.

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