Ask the Doctor
January 8, 2013

What can be done to detect breast cancer before it spreads?

Dear Doc,

I heard of persons having breast cancer without feeling a lump. What can be done to find out before it spreads?


Dear Paula,

You bet it is true!!!

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there. Does it make a sound? Not because a lump is not felt means that a cancer is not present and well advanced. This is the perfect time to drive home the reason for annual mammograms. The mammogram is a special X-ray of the breast tissue that can reveal changes in the breasts that are not otherwise recognized.

It is advised that women start mammograms from age 35 and annually after. Once again, the mammogram is a comparative study whereby comparing the x-ray from the previous year with the present one is of significant importance to recognize changes that might not be obvious. During the procedure, the breasts are sandwiched between a device that takes an X-ray. Enough pressure is applied to ensure that the breast is well spread out to get the best picture.

Many complain about the pressure applied to the breasts during mammograms and the possibility that X-raying the breast might be a cancer trigger. Until we have a device that is affordable, easy to operate, extremely accurate and harmless, we have to agree that mammograms are very helpful in the hands of a professional who is good at his or her job.


SVG Cancer Society,
P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.
Phone: 526-7036