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Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, like cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. The goal of screening exams, such as mammograms, is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. Breast cancers that are found because they can be felt tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. But screening exams can often find breast cancers when they are small and still confined to the breast.

The mammogram is the main test recommended by the American Cancer Society to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society also recommends breast MRI for women who are at high risk of breast cancer because of certain factors.

Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection has more details about the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer.

Last Medical Review: 09/25/2014
Last Revised: 02/22/2016