The early detection of breast cancer can be life saving. Early detection is defined as diagnosing breast cancer before symptoms begin to manifest themselves, and this can greatly increase an individual's chance of survival. Estimates suggest that thousands of lives could be saved if breast cancer were found early, before it spreads into other parts of the body.
Before symptoms alert the individual that there is something wrong, breast cancer tumors are typically still small and confined to a single area in the breast. These smaller instances are more easily removed than those that have had a chance to grow. Various screenings and tests have been designed to detect cancerous growths before they can be felt by a self-examination, and when discovered early these growths can often be removed without resorting to a complete removal of the breast.
One of the biggest dangers of breast cancer and one of the factors that contributes to the mortality rate associated with it is the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. With the early detection of breast cancer, cells can be isolated before they begin to spread into the rest of the body. Once that has begun, an individual can find herself facing a host of other cancers, each of which can have a higher mortality rate than breast cancer alone.
Treatments have been found to be more successful with the early detection of breast cancer. From chemotherapy and surgery to radiation therapy and supportive measures from holistic treatments, medicines have a higher success rate against smaller growths than against cancers that have had time to develop. In addition, the overall health and strength of the body is better with the early detection of breast cancer, and resilience to side effects is higher. Recovery time is generally less.
Certain individuals have a higher risk factor for developing the disease; for these, early detection of breast cancer can be particularly helpful. Women are much more susceptible than men, although there are cases of men developing breast cancer. Those with a family history of breast cancer, those who have had other conditions, or who have been exposed to radiation therapy for other reasons should undergo regular mammograms to aid in early detection of breast cancer. With the advent of genetic testing, genes that signal a predisposition to breast cancer have been found; those who have tested positive for the genes are also vulnerable.