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 Breast Cancer
Detecting Nonsymptomatic Tumors  

If mammograms are so good at detecting nonsymptomatic tumors, why should I bother with a monthly breast exam ?

Although mammograms are currently the most effective means of detecting breast cancer, the tests are not always completely accurate. If a woman has been experiencing breast pain, tenderness, or discomfort, and a mammogram does not show breast cancer, this does not mean that the woman should assume that no medical problem exists. Mammography cannot reveal every breast cancer at an early stage. Also, mammography can sometimes arouse suspicion when no cancer is present (i.e.: a false positive result).

Researchers are currently looking for ways to improve the accuracy of mammograms. Alternative techniques are being explored to produce even more detailed pictures of the tissues in the breast.

Tests for tumor makers, or substances that may be present in abnormal amounts in the blood or urine of a woman who has breast cancer, are a promising alternative approach to screening. Presently, however, such biochemical tests are not available and remain experimental.

Therefore, a mammogram remains the most reliable test currently available.

Related Questions of Detecting Nonsymptomatic Tumors
What is a mammogram?
Do mammograms prevent breast cancer?
I have had a mastectomy, but the cancer has been in remission for 2 years. Should I get a mammogram on the other breast?
Who should get a mammogram? When? How often?
I have breast implants. How can I get properly screened?
Are there different types of mammograms?
What is a digital mammogram ? Is it better than a film mammogram ?
Are mammograms safe ?
How is a mammogram performed?
How can I get ready for my mammogram ?
Are there any problems with mammogramy?
Are mammograms painful?
Where should I get a mammogram?
What if my health insurance does not cover mammograms?
I don't have health insurance. Where can I get a free or low-cost mammogram?
How often should I get a mammogram?
How long until you get the results of your mammogram?
What is an ultrasound, and when is it recommended?
Why are mammograms not recommended for women under 30?
Does the radiation from a mammogram cause cancer?
How accurate are mammograms?
Are mammograms less accurate if you are significantly overweight?
What is "implantation displacement view"?
I have heard of the Eklund Technique for women with breast implants. What is the Eklund Technique exactly?
I've heard that mammograms can cause implants to burst. Is this true?
Are MRIs better than mammograms for screening young women with a high breast cancer risk?
Should I get a mammogram if I am pregnant?
What happens if a woman detects an abnormality while she is nursing?

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