The Importance of Early Detection

June 26, 2014

By Vishaaq Mathew

As deadly as breast cancer is, advancements in modern medicine have significantly increased the chance of survival over the past ten years [1]. Perhaps the greatest contributor to the decrease of the death rate from breast cancer is the new methods of early detection [2]. Early detection refers to the discovery of breast cancer, or the potential development of breast cancer, before the cancer has developed to a more fatal stage.

Breast cancer is typically diagnosed after the patient has experienced symptoms. At this point, however, the cancer may have spread beyond the breast, and treatment options are limited. Early detection can therefore provide a more extensive treatment plan, one that may not require invasive surgery [3]. In the past, the ability to diagnose breast cancer early was limited due to a lack of awareness and technology – but today, there are many resources available to obtain a diagnosis as early as possible [4].

There are many diagnostic measures that can be taken to discover cancer before it grows and/or spreads to the rest of the body. Such diagnostics include mammography, thermography, ultrasound, MRI, biopsy, and self-examination. All of these techniques can detect breast cancer before it becomes symptomatic; and the earlier the diagnosis, the greater chance of recovery [4].

If you have a family history of breast cancer, or notice any warning signs or potential symptoms, you should talk to your doctor immediately. Early detection is possibly the single greatest defense against breast cancer, as it could be the difference between life and death.

To get more information on breast health and breast screening visit Your Health.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2014. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2014.


  1. Porta M, Gallen M, Malats N, Planas J. Influence of diagnostic delay upon cancer survival: an analysis of five tumour sites. J Epi. Comm. Health. 1991;9:225–230.


  1. Kothari A, Fentiman IS. 22. Diagnostic delays in breast cancer and impact on survival. Int J Clin Pract 2003;57:200-203.


  1. Partridge AH, Hughes ME, Ottesen RA, et al. The effect of age on delay in diagnosis and stage of breast cancer. The Oncologist 2012;17:775-782


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