Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and early detection is key to successful treatment. Mammograms are the most important screening tool for detecting breast cancer in its early stages. This X-ray of the breast can detect tumors before they can be felt or before any symptoms appear. The American College of Radiology and the American Society of Breast Surgeons recommend that women aged 40 and over with an average risk should get annual mammograms.
Women at higher risk should get screened sooner. In addition to mammograms, other imaging tests such as ultrasounds and MRI scans may be used to detect breast cancer. A biopsy is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of cancer, and it is done when mammograms or other imaging tests show a change in the breasts that may be cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer, especially if a first-degree relative was premenopausal at the time of diagnosis, are at higher risk for developing breast cancer.
Knowing more about your cancer and your options can help you make informed decisions about treatment. Hormone therapy may be used before or after surgery or other treatments to reduce the chance that the cancer will return. This therapy blocks hormones that can fuel the growth of certain types of breast cancers. Radiation therapy is another treatment option that uses high-powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells.
The body's immune system may not recognize and attack cancer cells because they produce proteins that blind immune cells. Mayo Clinic oncology teams approach personalized care for breast cancer patients by providing detailed information on specific types of cancer, including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis and treatment options.