Understanding breast cancer screening

And early detection

When breast cancer is found early, chances of successful treatment are higher.

Most breast cancer is found by women themselves, though women can also be diagnosed through breast screening. 

Checking your breasts

Get to know what your breasts are normally like – being familiar with your body can help you spot any changes. The goal is to know what’s normal for you so you can spot changes.

And if you do notice a change, make sure you see your doctor. 

Why does an early diagnosis make a difference?

Finding and treating cancer at an early stage can save lives. Cancer that’s diagnosed at an early stage, before it’s had the chance to get too big or spread to other parts of the body, is more likely to be treated successfully.

If the cancer has spread, treatment becomes more difficult, and generally a person’s chances of surviving are lower.

Make time for your health and see your doctor if you notice anything that doesn’t seem right.

Seeing a doctor

  • Be as stubborn as your symptom. Don’t worry you’re wasting your doctor’s time. If your symptoms haven’t gone away, make another appointment. Your doctor will want to know. 
  • Be thorough. Don’t dismiss changes as ‘part of getting older’ or assume they are down to another health condition you might have – mention them to your doctor.
  • Be open. Tell your doctor anything that's not normal for you, even if it doesn't seem that important or isn’t the main reason you made an appointment. Some symptoms can be difficult to talk about, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about: we are all human!
  • Be prepared. Have a think about how to describe the changes, and roughly how long you’ve had them for.
  • It’s your health, so don’t be afraid to take charge and ask questions!

Your screening options: what you need to know

Mammography is not perfect but is currently the best available screening technology. Mammograms take x-rays of your breasts so the doctor can look for signs that cancer is developing. New research findings, tests, technology and treatments are becoming available and it is important for women and their doctors to have regular discussions about the benefits, limitations and harms of screening tests to determine what’s best for each individual woman. 

Read more

These educational materials were developed in partnership with Cancer Research UK with funding provided by the Avon Foundation for Women.  

The information is intended to help you understand some of the risk factors for breast cancer, as well as actions you can take. It is provided for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Be sure to consult your doctor or medical provider to develop the best personal care plan for you. Cancer Research UK has provided all statistics.