breast cancer screening test

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Breast cancer is one of the most common and deadly cancers among women worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, over 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and over 685,000 died in 2020. However, breast cancer is not a death sentence.

Breast cancer can be cured or controlled if detected early and appropriately treated. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of breast cancer screening, the available screening tests, the benefits of early detection, the prevention and lifestyle factors, and the access to breast cancer screening in Dubai.

Understanding Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when some cells in the breast grow abnormally and form a tumor. The tumor can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Malignant tumors can invade nearby tissues or spread to other body parts through the blood or lymphatic system.

The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, but some factors may increase the risk of developing it. These include:

  • Age: The risk of breast cancer increases, especially after age 50.
  • Family history: Having a close relative with breast cancer increases the risk, especially if they had it before 50 or in both breasts.
  • Genetic mutations: Some inherited genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Hormonal factors: Having early menarche (the first menstrual period before 12), late menopause (after 55), no pregnancy or late pregnancy (after 30), hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives can affect the hormone levels and increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Lifestyle factors: Smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese, having a sedentary lifestyle, or eating an unhealthy diet can also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Why is Breast Cancer Screening Important?

Breast cancer screening is important because it can save lives. Studies have shown that regular mammograms can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 20%. Early detection can also improve the quality of life of breast cancer survivors by reducing the need for more aggressive treatments, such as mastectomy (removal of the whole breast), chemotherapy (drugs that kill cancer cells), or radiation therapy (high-energy rays that destroy cancer cells).

Breast cancer screening can also help prevent some breast cancer cases by finding and treating precancerous changes in the breast tissue. These changes are called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), and they are not invasive cancers yet, but they have the potential to become so. Removing or treating these changes can reduce the risk of developing invasive breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Screening Tests

Breast cancer screening checks the breasts for any signs of cancer before they cause any symptoms. There are different types of screening tests available for breast cancer, such as:

1.Blood Tests:

Analyses blood samples for biomarkers that may indicate cancer. It can detect tumor cells or DNA fragments that may have escaped from the tumor into the bloodstream.

2. Mammography:

A traditional screening method that uses low-dose X-rays to create images of the breasts. It can detect small tumors that may not be felt by hand. It is recommended for women aged 40 and above to have a mammogram every one to two years.

3. Breast Ultrasound:

This test uses sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. It can help evaluate lumps or other abnormalities on a mammogram or a physical exam. It can also be used to screen women with dense breasts, making mammograms less effective.

4. Breast MRI:

This test uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the breast tissue. It can help detect cancers that are missed by mammography or ultrasound. It is mainly used to screen women with a high risk of breast cancer due to genetic mutations, family history, or previous radiation therapy.

5. Experimental Breast Imaging Tests:

These are tests that are being developed and studied for breast cancer screening. They include

  • molecular breast imaging
  • contrast-enhanced mammography
  • digital breast tomosynthesis, and thermography.

These tests have advantages over the current methods, such as higher accuracy, lower radiation exposure, or lower cost. However, they have yet to be widely available or proven, and more research is needed to determine their effectiveness and safety.

6. Thermography:

A technique that uses infrared cameras to measure the temperature differences in the breasts. It can detect abnormal blood flow or inflammation that may indicate cancer.

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection of breast cancer can make a massive difference in the outcomes and prognosis of the disease. Regular screenings for breast cancer are essential for early detection and prevention of the disease. Regular screenings can help you find breast cancer before it causes symptoms or signs, such as a lump, pain, nipple discharge, or skin changes. Early detection can:

  • Increase the chances of survival: According to a Cancer Research UK study, women diagnosed with breast cancer at stage 1 have a 98% chance of surviving for at least five years, compared to 26% for those diagnosed at stage.
  • Reduce the need for aggressive treatments: Early detection can allow for more conservative treatments, such as lumpectomy (removal of the tumor only) instead of mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) or hormone therapy instead of chemotherapy.
  • Improve the quality of life: Early detection can reduce the physical and emotional side effects of breast cancer and its treatments, such as pain, fatigue, nausea, hair loss, anxiety, depression, etc.

Early detection can inspire hope and courage among breast cancer patients and their families.

Prevention and Lifestyle Factors

While some risk factors for breast cancer cannot be changed, such as age or genetics, some prevention and lifestyle factors can reduce the risk or delay the onset of breast cancer. These include:

Dietary and lifestyle changes for prevention

Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products; avoiding processed foods, red meat, saturated fats, sugars, and salt; drinking plenty of water; limiting alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women; avoiding smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke; using natural or organic cosmetics and personal care products; avoiding exposure to environmental toxins or pollutants.

Genetic testing and counseling

Getting tested for inherited genes that increase the risk of breast cancer, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2; getting counselling on the implications and options of having a genetic mutation; considering preventive measures such as prophylactic surgery or chemoprevention.

Importance of regular exercise and weight management

Engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week; maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI).

Reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption

Alcohol and tobacco are two of the most harmful substances that can increase the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol can damage the DNA of the cells and increase the estrogen levels, which can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Tobacco can introduce carcinogens and toxins into the body, which can cause mutations and inflammation in the breast tissue. Therefore, it is advisable to quit or reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption as much as possible. Some tips on how to do so are:

  • Set a realistic goal and track your progress.
  • Seek professional help or join a support group.
  • Use nicotine patches, gums, or lozenges to ease the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Avoid triggers and temptations that may make you crave alcohol or tobacco.
  • Reward yourself for your achievements and celebrate your milestones.

How can Women Make Informed Decisions about Breast Cancer Screening?

Breast cancer screening is a personal choice that depends on many factors, such as age, risk level, health status, values, preferences, and access to healthcare services. Women should talk to their healthcare providers about the benefits and risks of screening and the best screening options. Women should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as a new lump, pain, nipple discharge, or skin changes, and report any changes to their healthcare providers as soon as possible.

  • Women aged 20 to 39: Perform a breast self-exam every month; have a clinical breast exam every three years; consult a doctor if any changes or symptoms are noticed.
  • Women aged 40 to 49: Perform a breast self-exam every month; have a clinical breast exam every year; have a mammogram every one to two years or as a doctor recommends; consider other screening methods such as ultrasound, MRI, or blood tests at home if at high risk.
  • Women aged 50 and above: Perform a breast self-exam every month; have a clinical breast exam every year; have a mammogram every year or as recommended by a doctor; consider other screening methods such as ultrasound, MRI, or blood tests if at high risk.

However, these are general guidelines and may vary depending on your risk factors, personal preferences, and medical history. Therefore, you must consult your doctor and decide on the best screening plan for yourself.


Breast cancer is a serious threat that affects millions of women worldwide, including those in Dubai. However, early detection through breast cancer screening tests Dubai, combined with prevention efforts and informed decision-making, can significantly improve the outlook for those at risk.

By raising awareness, providing access to screening services, and encouraging healthy lifestyles, we can work together to reduce the impact of breast cancer and offer hope to those affected by it. The key lies in empowering women to make informed choices about their breast health, ensuring that breast cancer is not a death sentence but a challenge that can be met with early detection, prevention, and a commitment to well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is vital to get breast cancer screening early because it can help find breast cancer early when treatment is more likely to be successful and less aggressive.

The screening test for early detection of breast cancer is usually a mammogram, which is a low-dose x-ray of the breast that can find changes in the breast tissue before they can be felt.

Early detection is critical because it can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer, improve the chances of survival, and lower the need for mastectomy (surgery to remove the entire breast) and chemotherapy.

The screening and early detection measures of common cancers vary depending on the type of cancer. Still, they may include physical exams, blood tests, imaging tests (such as x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, etc.), and biopsies (removing a small tissue sample for testing).

Breast screening is a general term for any test used to look for breast cancer in women with no symptoms. The most common breast screening test is a mammogram, but other tests may include breast ultrasound, breast MRI, or newer and experimental tests.

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