Screening tests for any disease are done to detect the disease among people who do not have the symptoms of disease. The goal is early detection and lifestyle changes or surveillance, to reduce the risk of disease, or to detect it early enough to treat it most effectively. Screening tests are not considered diagnostic, but are used to identify a subset of the population who should have additional testing to determine the presence or absence of disease.
Screening for breast cancer is of supreme importance and plays a pivotal role in saving lives. Unfortunately, due to a societal stigma attached to breast cancer and lack of awareness about screening, most women present in later stages of cancer when the prognosis is already grave.
According to Guidelines from American Cancer Society for early detection of cancer
• Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
• Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
• Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
• Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
• All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening.
In Pakistan, risk factors for woman differ in comparison to West. More and more younger woman are getting diagnosed with breast cancer despite having no risk factors. Hence, the criteria of screening for breast cancer is different in Pakistani population.
Screening procedure that is deemed most appropriate is
• Women of reproductive age should know how their breasts normally look and feel, should report any changes to a health care provider right away.
• Women of reproductive age should know the method of self-examination of breasts and should do it regularly.
• Women above the age of 40 should get a yearly mammogram done to aid in early detection of the cancer.
References: 1. Cancer Screening Guidelines | Detecting Cancer Early [Internet]. Cancer.org. 2021 [cited 25 November 2021]. Available from: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html