Since what age should women start a breast examination?
Breast cancer is one such cancer that can be cured if detected and treated during initial stages. It is extremely important for women to know what their breasts look and feel like normally so that they are able to differentiate in case of any changes. Breast cancer can happen to women across all age groups, although a majority of the cases of breast cancer occur in women over 40 years of age. However irrespective of the age, women should be aware of their body and its changes. Diagnosing breast cancer in women under 40 years of age is difficult because the breast tissue during that age is much denser than in older women. However self-breast examinations must be done once a month and can be done by women in their 20’s as well. During the teens, women tend to feel lumps in the breast which is quite normal as the breasts are developing and the lumps normally disappear on their own gradually. However, if the lump gets bigger in size or causes pain/discomfort it is better to consult a specialist in order to understand the cause.
A self-breast examination should be done by women whose breasts are fully developed (post-adolescence). Beginning the practice early will help women create a habit out of it and they will become much more familiar with their breasts and can address any changes that the breast undergoes. The self-examination should be done after the days of mensuration as during those days the breasts tend to be swollen. At a younger age, regular examination at frequent intervals is recommended in order to rule out any health condition. Mammograms are not recommended for women below 40 years of age because of the dense breast tissue women have at a younger age, hence mammograms may not be extremely efficient. Women over 40 years of age should screen themselves annually. In case of women who are at higher risk of developing breast cancer; i.e. women who have a family history of breast cancer, women who started menstruating before 12 years of age, women with poor lifestyle habits, women diagnosed with benign breast conditions previously etc. it is recommended to consult a specialist who would be able to advise on the right time to begin mammogram screening.