Early detection of breast cancer is key (and the closest thing to prevention we have), because a tumor is a lot easier to treat if you, your doctor, or a mammogram can catch it while it's still small.
How Does a Mammogram Work?
How breast X-rays work and what the results can tell you Read more
More about breast cancer screening
Screenings are for when you have no symptoms of disease but want to be sure something isn't lurking that you haven't spotted yet, says Peter M. Jokich, MD, director of the Rush Breast Imaging Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Women who don't have any breast cancer symptoms
should consider committing to three kinds of routine screenings:
breast self-exams at home
clinical breast exams and, each year after you turn 40,
mammogramsthis is the one that shouldn't be skipped, experts say.
Other breast cancer tests
diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, and biopsiesare for women with symptoms who, for example, "feel a lump, have redness on the skin of their breast, or have discharge from the nipple," says Dr. Jokich.