Listen to your body. Be Aware.



Please note, in addition to this section, you will find a lot of information on all forms of breast symptoms (lumps, nipple discharge, skin changes, etc.) on the website of the NGO - The Pink Initiative. Click Here to visit that section

Early detection of breast cancer

Screening is a systematic evaluation of a 'normal' individual to see if there is any underlying cancer. A 'normal' individual implies one who does not have any symptoms or signs of cancer. One must understand that, before a lump becomes sizeable, it may not be felt. By the time a lump in the breast becomes 'palpable' or can be felt, it usually will have reached a size of a few cm or more, and that will be a mimimum stage 2 cancer, if not more. As the size of a 'tumour' increases, its potential to spread elsewhere also increases, and also affects the patient's survival. So our aim is to catch the cancer before it is even felt as a lump, when it is very small; in other words, to detect it while it is in stage 1. A patient has the best chance of long survival if the cancer is detected in the first stage. There are various screening guidelines worldwide. The most commonly accepted and followed are the NCCN Guidelines . The following discussion elaborates on the NCCN Guidelines.

How do I select my doctor for 'Screening'?

This sure is a difficult question to answer. Selection of a proper doctor is very important. I will give two examples for that:

So please ensure that the doctor you select knows how to calculate the risk of breast cancer, how to go about screening and how to interpret the results. The best way to go about screening is, gather several friends, fix up an appointment with the doctor, and do it all together on the same day. I usually do that for women who come to me for screening. I encourage them to get their friends, relatives etc., and apart from screening, I also show them powerpoint presentations to guide them about various cancers and what to watch out for, healthy lifestyle guidelines etc.

Normal risk woman, 20 to 40 years of age:

For a woman who does not have an increased risk for breast cancer and who is between 20 to 40 years of age, the screening (early detection) guidelines are as follows:

Normal risk woman, more than 40 years of age:

For a woman who does not have an increased risk for breast cancer and who is more than 40 years of age, the early screening protocol is as follows:

Women with increased risk of breast cancer:

For a woman who has an increased risk for breast cancer, the screening (early detection) guidelines are as follows:


The main purpose of explaining these guidelines is to make the reader aware of what must be done. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY DECISIONS BY YOUR OWN SELF REGARDING SCREENING MODALITY OR MAMMOGRAM OR MRI. Decision of risk and decision of screening modalities is an intricate issue and you must always consult a doctor first and with the doctor's guidance, calculate your risk of breast cancer, and plan the screening protocol. It is important to understand that a correct interpretation of screening is very important, else it can lead to unnecessary intervention and anxiety, or may result in a cancer being missed.

Which women are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer?

To explain in simple terms, following women have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer:

What is Clinical Breast Examination (CBE)?

Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) implies a visit to a doctor, where the doctor makes a detailed evaluation of the patient's history and performs a body checkup including breast examination with an aim to detect any suspicious abnormality. A doctor, who is in touch with the subject and who has an experience in breast disorders may be able to pick up an early cancer even before it may manifest, as also may be able to appropriately rule out any cancer in a woman who may be having some breast symptom.

What is Breast Awareness?

Breast Awareness implies familiarity with one's own breast. A self examination can be done monthly during bath, best time being just at the end of menses. This helps to keep in notice any irregularity, any lumps, the skin, the nipple etc. Also, breast awareness also includes a knowledge of breast cancer. A woman should be aware of what possible changes could occur in a breast when a cancers develops in the breast.