The rational for early detection is straightforward. Small cancers in general have a better prognosis than larger cancers and require less aggressive therapy. Every woman after puberty should engage in early detection efforts. Young women should become familiar with the pattern and texture of their breast tissue. Menstruating women should do monthly breast examination a few days after completing their menstrual period. The time to start the process of monthly self exam is the same day that a medical provider has done a careful exam and concluded that the exam was normal. The patient can then examine herself with the confidence in knowing the pattern or texture that she feels on exam is normal. Once a woman is confident of her normal breasts and does the exam at regular intervals, she is better prepared to detect a subtle change before the physician can feel it. If she does detect a focal change in her breast it should be reported to an experienced physician for evaluation.
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