How much do you really know about breast cancer detection?


By: Olivia Seitz

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

From pink ribbons to walks for a cure, breast cancer is frequently in the news and talked about on social media. But when it comes to watching out for breast cancer, do you know your stuff?

What is the routine test done to check for breast cancer called?

A mammogram is done to check the breasts for any lumps or hidden tissue that may or may not be cancerous. Mammograms can catch tumors that haven't yet resulted in an abnormal external appearance or feel.


Can mammograms give false positive results?

A mammogram isn't the final word on whether or not a woman has cancer. If anything out of the ordinary is detected with a mammogram, the woman will be asked to complete some follow-up tests to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.


What should women check for during a breast self-exam?

During a breast self-exam, a woman should check her breasts for any structural changes or lumps, then also make sure there is no unexpected discharge from her nipples. If she does find anything abnormal, she should visit her doctor to discuss her findings and follow up with more tests if needed.


What test is considered definitive for confirming or rejecting the presence of cancer?

If cancer is suspected after a mammogram, doctors will usually order a biopsy to test the tissue. A negative biopsy almost always means no cancer; a positive biopsy almost always means cancer.


Are breast lumps always cancerous?

Lumps can be caused by much more than just breast cancer. For example, cysts (fluid-filled sacs of tissue) are a common source of lumps which aren't cancerous.


Can a genetic test detect breast cancer?

Testing for genetic markers is sometimes recommended for women who have a family history of breast cancer. Some genetic markers, like BRCA1, are associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer.


Which of the following could interfere with mammogram results?

Deodorant that contains aluminum could interfere with the imaging, since the aluminum particles will show up as bright specks of light on the results. It's also a good idea to have the mammogram done post-period.


What is a clinical breast exam?

A clinical breast exam is similar to the self-exam you can do at home. Most doctors will be as quick and discreet as possible while checking for any signs of breast cancer.


Which of the following increases your risk of having breast cancer?

There are some genetic markers which indicate a high risk of breast cancer, while others only slightly elevate that risk. Knowing your family history with regard to breast cancer can help you and your doctor make wise decisions about care and prevention.


How much does a mammogram cost?

Most health insurance plans offer no-cost mammograms (not even a co-pay!) and the CDC offers free to low-cost mammograms for patients who qualify. There are a couple of exceptions - women who start getting mammograms before the age of 40, for example, may incur some cost.


Which of the following may be recommended if a woman has dense breast tissue?

For women with dense breast tissue, a mammogram may not be sufficient to detect tumors. Therefore, an MRI or ultrasound may be recommended. These are not usually used first since they are more invasive and/or expensive.


Which of the following is not usually a warning sign for breast cancer?

Some soreness before or during your period is not usually abnormal, but things like rashes, swelling, heat and redness, puckering, and dimpling are worth investigating further.


Do men need to worry about getting breast cancer?

Most estimates put a woman's risk of developing breast cancer at 1 in 8, whereas men only have a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing the disease. Women's hormonal cycles and general hormone profile are believed to be at the heart of this difference.


Risk of getting breast cancer is reduced by which of the following?

It's rare for a woman to have breast cancer and be pregnant at the same time. Not only that, but women who have been pregnant one or more times have a lower risk of getting breast cancer than those who have not.


What is a benefit of early breast cancer detection?

Early detection is associated with decreased mortality rates, but each case proceeds differently. Sometimes this will also mean a shorter time for treatment.


Is detection advice different for breast cancer survivors?

Since breast cancer survivors have a higher chance of having the cancer return, they must undergo screening much more often. The hope is that if the cancer does return, it will be detected as early as possible, giving the woman a better chance for survival.


Where can you find out where to get your mammogram screening done?

The CDC provides up to date information about mammogram screening facilities. Most doctors will be able to refer you to a screening site, and often you can find this information through your health insurance company as well.


Which of these methods is in development for better breast cancer detection?

What does the future of breast cancer detection look like? It's likely to involve 3D sound wave imaging, which may have better a success rate at accurate, early detection, along with more precise blood tests that can catch cancer in its early stages.


Which ethnicity has the highest risk of dying as a result of breast cancer?

African-American women are most likely to succumb breast cancer. Experts cite more aggressive tumors, later detection and poverty rate as the primary explanations.


When should women perform a breast self-exam?

Breast self-exams should be performed each month, if possible. Since hormonal changes during the period could cause false alarm, it's important to wait to do the breast self-exam until after one's period finishes.


What should you have every time you see your doctor for a wellness visit?

Doctor visits are a great time to bring up any new or existing concerns. Many doctors will automatically do a clinical breast exam; if yours doesn't, you can ask for one.


How will breast implants affect a mammogram?

Always notify your technician in advance if you have implants. Breast implants won't prevent you from getting a mammogram, but they do make things more difficult. Technicians will usually take extra pictures to compensate for the implants, but some tissue will not be visible.


Do genetic influences on breast cancer development have to be inherited?

A case of breast cancer can be caused by mutations that aren't inherited. Sometimes the changes happen in specific tissues and are not related to heredity.


How does a mammogram work?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of the tissue inside your breasts. It's usually able to detect any unexpected lumps or formations that could be cancerous.


What is the age at which women are encouraged to begin having mammograms?

The CDC official guidelines recommend starting at age 50. However, women between the ages of 40 and 49 are encouraged to have a mammogram screening done at the recommendation of their doctors. Family health history can be a consideration in deciding when women should first be screened.


Does getting a breast MRI mean your doctor suspects cancer?

An MRI might be one of the follow-up tests to a suspicious mammogram result, but it's not always reserved for dire cases. Women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer are sometimes advised to include MRIs in their screening regimen.


What is a false positive?

Sometimes test results indicate cancer when there isn't any - this is called a false positive. False positives are weeded out through additional testing.


Does getting an MRI in addition to a mammogram result in fewer fatalities if cancer is detected?

Current research has failed to show whether using breast MRI as part of a detection routine contributes to a better overall outcome for the patient. In addition, MRIs can bring false positive results. This is why MRIs are only recommended in certain cases, such as when mammograms are unclear or when a patient has already had breast cancer.


How early can a mammogram detect breast cancer?

Mammograms can detect breast cancer even before the patient experiences any symptoms or notices changes through a breast self-exam. Most estimates give mammograms as much as a two year advantage to breast self-exams, depending on the situation.


What are the two greatest risk factors for developing breast cancer?

Women are much more likely than men to develop breast cancer. Risk also increases with age.


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