Breast cancer screenings and exams are important for women of all ages in order to detect cancer early and give patients the best possible outcome after any diagnosis.
How Often Are Breast Exams Needed?
The providers at Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn encourage all of our patients to perform monthly self-breast exams as this is an important way to determine any changes in your breast health that should be addressed.
What Happens During A Breast Exam?
At your yearly exam in our office, your women’s healthcare specialist will perform a clinical breast exam to check for abnormalities or concerns. A full womens wellness exam can also be provided to answer any questions about your health.
How Long Do Breast Exams Take?
Your breast screening is usually done as a part of your general well-woman visit. This exam may occur in the same visit at which you have your routine Pap smear. The process takes just a couple of minutes in most cases. If your doctor finds a lump, they may spend a bit more time feeling it and evaluating it for its unique characteristics. Your entire appointment should take well under an hour.
What Age Should Mammograms Be Performed?
Generally, yearly screening mammograms are ordered for all patients beginning at 40 years of age, however, your provider might determine it is necessary to start yearly screening mammograms early based on your personal and family history, so please be sure to give them a full and accurate history at your visit.
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Is There Any Recovery Time Needed After the Exam?
No. After your breast exam, you are free to go about your day as usual. You should not have any soreness or other side effects.
Are Breast Exams Painful?
Breast exams are performed very gently and usually do not cause any discomfort. However, if you are concerned about this (many women are), we suggest that you schedule your visit one week after your period has ended. Breast tenderness is usually at its peak in the week before menstruation, so paying close attention to your cycle can help you better prepare for a painless breast exam.
Do Breast Implants Make Breast Exams Challenging?
If you have breast implants, you should still perform monthly self-exams and also attend regular well-woman visits with your gynecologist for a formal breast screening. Tell your doctor that you have breast implants. They will use appropriate techniques to evaluate your breast tissue around the implants without disrupting them or causing discomfort. If you have breast implants, it can be helpful to have your plastic surgeon show you how to feel the edges of the implants. This can help you more easily differentiate between the implant structure and lumpiness in your breast tissue.
Do Men Need Breast Exams Also?
Men do have breast tissue, so they can develop breast cancer. However, it is such a rare occurrence that formal screening guidelines are not necessary. Most men do not need breast exams. That said, if you or a man that you know has a strong history of breast cancer in his family, there is value in monthly breast self-exams. These are so simple that they can be done easily in the shower by running the hands over the breasts and feeling for lumps.