Mammography involves detailed X-ray images of the breast that may detect tumors too small to feel. Stage 1 breast cancer is the earliest stage and is often easier to treat than later-stage breast cancer.
Mammograms can detect stage 1 breast cancer. According to the
But mammography is not perfect. According to the
This article takes a look at what mammograms typically detect, symptoms of stage 1 breast cancer, and screening recommendations.
- a solid mass
- areas that look different from healthy breast tissue (asymmetries)
- areas that appear distorted or pulled toward a certain point
If you’ve had a mammogram before, the radiologist will compare the new scans to the old ones. This can help determine if suspicious areas were there before and whether they’ve changed at all.
It’s not always easy to see early-stage breast cancer on a mammogram. About
Your doctor will likely recommend an ultrasound following a mammogram with unclear results.
If you have dense breast tissue, your doctor can make a recommendation based on your breast cancer risk factors.
Most people with stage 1 breast cancer don’t have symptoms, and the mass is small enough that you’re unlikely to notice. But depending on its location within the breast, you might find it by accident or when performing a breast self-exam.
Other warning signs of breast cancer are:
- lump under the armpit
- an area of the breast that’s thickening, swelling, or dimpling
- nipple changes, such as redness, pulling, or discharge
- any changes in size or shape of the breast
- breast or nipple pain
Is breast cancer slow or fast growing?
Different kinds of breast cancer grow at different rates. Tumors are graded on a scale of 1–3, with 1 being slower growing and 3 being the most aggressive.
Cancer is serious, but stage 1 breast cancer is highly treatable and survivable.
- Stage 1 means the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.
- In stage 1A, the tumor has not spread beyond the breast.
- In stage 1B, a tiny number of cancer cells have made their way to nearby lymph nodes.
Based on data from 2013–2019, the 5-year relative survival rate for localized breast cancer is
- the specific type of breast cancer, including hormone and HER2 receptor status
- the tumor grade
- your age and overall health
Screening means looking for cancer in someone without symptoms. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening mammography every other year for women ages 50–74 who are at average risk for breast cancer.
Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent screening if you’re at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Most diagnoses occur after age 50. Besides age and being female, other breast cancer risk factors are:
- personal history of breast cancer or breast diseases
- having dense breasts
- previous radiation therapy to the breast or chest
- family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- certain inherited genetic mutations, including BRCA1 and BRCA2
- having overweight or obesity after menopause
- taking hormones
- physical inactivity and alcohol consumption
Mammograms can detect stage 1 breast cancer, though it does miss some.
Early-stage breast cancer is very treatable, but it’s worth noting that some types are more aggressive than others. Since you may not have symptoms at this stage, screening mammography is a good way to find it before it grows and spreads.
With treatment, the outlook for stage 1 breast cancer is very favorable. Consider speaking with a doctor about your breast cancer risk factors and screening recommendations. And be sure to let a doctor know if you have signs or symptoms between screenings.