Breast exams are methods of screening for breast cancer before other symptoms arise.The providers at Kamm McKenzie OB/GYN are able to perform clinical breast exams, and we can refer you to great radiology partners for imaging that we do not provide.
Different Types of Breast Exams
Clinical Breast Exam
A clinical breast exam is performed by a healthcare professional. It consists of an examination of both breasts, and the surrounding areas to check for any signs of breast cancer. This is typically done as part of your annual exam, or if new symptoms arise.
A mammogram examines the breasts through use of low dose x-rays. The x-ray images can show both tumors, and other abnormalities that may indicate breast cancer.
When receiving a mammogram, the breast is placed between two plates of an x-ray machine. These plates help to flatten out the breast to help produce a clear x-ray image of the breast tissue.
The mammogram, when scheduled annually, has been shown to significantly reduce the number of women aged 40 and older who die from breast cancer.
Breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, is a newer technology. It works similarly to a traditional mammogram in the sense that it still relies on x-ray imaging, but it takes these images from a variety of angles and creates a 3-D picture.
A breast ultrasound is most commonly used as a follow up to abnormalities found during a mammogram or clinical breast exam. In this exam, a probe uses sound waves to examine the breast tissue. The sound waves bounce off the breast tissue in forms of echo waves, which are then converted to images on an ultrasound.
Breast MRIs utilizes radio waves and a computer linked magnet to take more detailed images of the breasts. This form of screening is typically used in instances where the patient has a higher risk of breast cancer.
Self Breast Exam
A self breast exam is an at-home exam that you give yourself. You should check for any lumps, thickening of tissue, or changes to size or shape. If you find any abnormalities, schedule an appointment with us immediately. It’s important to note that a self breast exam should not replace routine breast cancer screenings administered by a healthcare professional.
With the genetic testing offered at Kamm McKenzie OB/GYN, we are able to help distinguish if the patient can attribute their family’s history of breast cancer to an inherited gene mutation. Genetic tests help identify BRCA1 and BRCA2, the specific inherited mutations that most notably increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in women, as well as other multiple risk-risk gene mutations. Tests require a blood or saliva sample.
If your family history puts you at a higher risk of breast cancer, genetic testing may be an option for you.
Contact Us About Breast Exams
Having breast exams on a regular basis can help detect breast cancer at early, more treatable stages. Call our office at (919) 781-6200 to schedule a breast exam.