Medical Minute - Breast Cancer Exams


Dr. Sharifa Baker, family practice physician at Primary Care Specialists discusses the importance of both an annual mammogram and a self-exam. A breast exam is a self-inspection of your breasts. During a breast exam, you use your eyes and hands to observe the appearance and feel of your breasts. Breast exams, once thought essential for early breast cancer detection, are now considered optional. While screening mammograms have been proved to save lives, there's no evidence that breast exams can do this. What's now stressed is breast awareness being familiar with the normal consistency of your breasts and the underlying tissue, as well as inspecting your breasts for new changes that may signify potential breast problems. A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breast used to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms play a key role in early breast cancer detection and help decrease breast cancer deaths. During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces in order to spread out the breast tissue. Then an X-ray captures black-and-white images of your breasts that a doctor uses to detect changes and cancer. A mammogram can be used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes. How often you should have a mammogram depends on your age and your risk of breast cancer.