With advancements in the treatment of breast cancer, early detection can drastically improve patient experience and increase the odds of survival. Treatment options for Stage 0 breast cancer often involve a lumpectomy, where the tumour is removed but the rest of the breast tissue remains intact, and in some cases patients can avoid radiation.
In 2018, the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care released new guidelines encouraging women aged 40 to 74 to discuss breast cancer screening with their doctors and make a shared decision about whether to get a mammogram based in part on a woman’s preferences. However, observation for early signs of breast cancer can start at home for any adult woman.
Self breast exams provide women an opportunity to check for abnormalities in their breast tissue once a month and encourage women to contact their doctor if any concerns arise. This early self-detection of lumps and other abnormalities is currently how 40 per cent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed.
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network stands with other cancer and patient organizations to encourage all adult women to perform monthly self breast exams as a first step before and in addition to regular mammograms after age 40.
Find a comprehensive guide to breast self exams by visiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation website.