Clinical Breast Exam
Your yearly checkup should include a clinical breast
exam. This exam may be done by a gynecologist, family doctor, nurse
practitioner, or specially trained nurse. Yearly breast exams help to
ensure that breast conditions are found early.
Your Healthcare Provider’s Role
A healthcare professional knows the tests and follow-up care
needed if a problem is found. Your clinical exam is also a great time to
ask questions about breast self-exam (BSE). You can find out whether
you’re doing BSE in the most effective way. Or you may want to ask how
pregnancy, breast implants, or breast reduction surgery affects the way
you should examine your breasts.
If a clinical exam reveals a breast change, you may have other tests to find out more. These tests may include:
Mammography, low-dose x-rays used to create pictures of the breast.
Ultrasound, using sound waves to create a picture of the breast.
Biopsy, the removal of a small amount of breast tissue by needle or incision. The tissue is then examined under a microscope.
Guidelines for Having Clinical Breast Exams
Starting at age 20, you should have a clinical breast
exam every 1 to 3 years. After age 40, have a clinical breast exam each
year. If you’re at higher risk for breast cancer, you may need more
frequent exams. Risk factors for breast cancer may include:
Being over 50 or postmenopausal
A family history of breast cancer
Having had no pregnancies or a first pregnancy after age 30
Heavy alcohol use
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substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare