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Should you get a mammogram earlier because you have lumpy breasts?

by , 05 August 2015

The answer is simple: Nope. Well, not necessarily…

Women with lumpy breasts don't have a higher risk of breast cancer, so earlier screening isn't necessary.

The technical term for lumpy breasts is “fibrocystic breasts”. The lumps are nodules of fibrous tissue or cysts that form in response to fluctuating hormones.

These lumps might feel very tender and change in size throughout your menstrual cycle. But increased breast cancer risk is one thing not associated with them. Read on to learn more.

Perform monthly self-exams if you have lumpy breasts

If you have fibrocystic breasts, perform a self-exam on yourself once a month. Keep track of how your breasts usually feel so you don’t miss anything that could be cancer.
 
Anything that doesn’t feel right – like a new lump that sticks around or a thickening or new firmness in an existing lump – you should report to your doctor right away.
 

Screening is a big decision

Breast cancer screening is a hot-button issue. The latest guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force say that the decision to begin routine screening before age 50 (for women not at high risk) is one that women should make for themselves, in discussion with their doctor, by weighing their family history, tolerance for risk and other factors. 

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But many organisations, including The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say
that every woman should get an annual or biannual mammogram beginning at age 40. Personally, I advise patients to look closely at their specific health history with their doctors and begin screening when it makes sense for them. That seems the most logical.

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