Annual Clinic Checks
Annual clinic checks are an important part of breast cancer screening. Breast cancer screening is the practice of looking for breast cancer before it becomes serious. While breast screening does not prevent breast cancer, it helps detect it in its early, easier-to-treat stages. At Cayman Islands Surgery Center, Dr. Tanja Ebanks provides annual clinic checks to her patients concerned about or at risk for breast cancer and other breast diseases.
What Are Annual Clinic Checks?
Annual clinic checks are breast cancer screening methods performed once a year by a physician or clinic. While breast exams aim to detect breast cancer, they are also useful in detecting other breast problems, like fibroadenomas and cysts. The process is similar to monthly self-exams.
Clinical breast exam
During the physical clinical exam, Dr. Ebanks or your health care provider look for unusual changes in the shape, size and overall appearance of your breast. They also look for any lumps or bumps in the breast tissue with their fingertips. The process is similar to what is done during a self-exam.
A screening mammogram is an x-ray that may show minute changes in breast tissue before any palpable lump is formed. Mammograms help health care providers decide whether a woman needs further testing for breast cancer. Two changes a mammogram can show are masses and calcifications.
Women with dense breast tissue may benefit from additional screening, such as ultrasound or MRI. Others may need ductography if they are experiencing nipple discharge, but the above two tests have not detected any unusual changes in their breasts.
Disease experts have developed guidelines that help women and physicians detect breast cancer early. These recommendations are based on years of clinical and epidemiological research and have now become part of national programs aimed at early cancer detection.
These recommendations also offer screening guidelines for women at lower risk of breast cancer:
- Younger women (below 40 years of age) should have an annual clinical breast examination.
- Older women (over 40 years of age) should have a yearly clinical breast examination as well as a yearly mammogram, scheduled six months apart.
- Women with dense breast tissue should undergo a yearly ultrasound or MRI screening.
Also, all women should perform a monthly breast self-exam beginning at age 20. The ideal time of the month to perform self-exams is in the first few days after your period ends, when breasts are less lumpy and tender.
Women with a higher risk of breast cancer are advised to undergo yearly mammograms even at a younger age. They should also get a clinical breast exam every six months or might need an additional annual Breast MRI for screening. (American Cancer Society screening recommendations for women at high risk based on certain factors recommend they should get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30.) Women at a higher risk of breast cancer include those with a family history, genetic predisposition or prior biopsies, for example. Dr. Ebanks is happy to analyze and discuss your personal risk for developing breast cancer and find the best screening strategy going forward.
What to Expect During Annual Clinic Checks
During a clinical breast exam, your doctor will speak to you about your medical history and ask you questions about your health and family history of breast cancer and other conditions. You will then undress from the waist up so your doctor can take a careful look at your breasts, looking for prominent asymmetry, skin changes or dimpling. You may be provided a gown that opens at the front to help you feel more comfortable. This type of exam is done while you are lying down and also sitting up. Your doctor will look for any unusual lumps or bumps in your breast tissue by applying gentle pressure with their fingertips. They may also look for abnormal discharge from the nipple. The whole exam takes about three minutes.
Make an Appointment
If you want to undergo an annual clinic check at our clinic, feel free to make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Tanja Ebanks at Cayman Islands Surgery Center. Dr. Ebanks is a general surgeon who also specializes in breast cancer surgery and has years of experience providing diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer and other breast diseases. She will carefully assess your medical history and find the screening tools for your individual needs. To learn more about Cayman Islands breast cancer screening, call Dr. Ebanks today at +1 345 946 0067. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a staff member call you at a more convenient time. You can message Cayman Surgery directly at email@example.com.
Is a clinical breast exam a reliable screening method?
A clinical breast exam is a reliable a screening method in combination with a negative mammogram. For certain benign breast changes such as fibroadenomas and simple cysts a mammogram may not always show them, and even if you had a recent normal mammogram, if you feel a new lump you should seek advice. Certain breast changes are well palpable, but might not always show up in a mammogram, especially in women under 40 and those with dense breast tissue. Most cases of breast cancer that are found either before or between screening present as a new lump; pain is usually a very late symptom of cancer. The most common reasons for breast pain are fibrocystic changes, dietary and hormonal influences. This further shows how important screening is, and just how reliable a simple clinical breast exam can be. An ultrasound will be able to tell the difference between a cyst and a fibroadenoma or a more suspicious lesion.
How should I prepare for a clinical breast exam?
You don’t have to do anything in particular to get ready for a clinical breast exam. The only thing you may do is perform a self-exam the day before and discuss any unusual changes you may have noticed with your doctor so they can take a closer look.