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Breast Self-Exam Gets the Boot
Ask your gal pals and they, like you, have been reminded enough times about the importance of regular breast self-exams. When you forget or your doctor asks you about your exam habits, you always feel a bit guilty, right? A review by health experts shows that you may not have to feel so shameful.
According to the analysis, there is no proof that self-exams reduce breast cancer deaths and they may actually be more harmful than they are helpful. A study of nearly 400,000 Chinese and Russian women showed that there was not much of a benefit from self-exams and that they can actually increase the number of benign lesions, therefore boosting the amount of biopsies that are preformed. The authors of the study said self-examination, at this time, could not be recommended as an effective screening method of a breast cancer health diagnosis.
So, what’s a gal to do?
Health professionals say there are two important factors to keep in mind: age and family history. If, for example, breast cancer runs in your family—your grandmother, mother, aunt or sister have been diagnosed—then practicing self exams is a necessity.
On the other hand, women in their 20s and 30s without a strong family history seldom get breast cancer, doctors say. They do have a lot of benign lumps that can make self-exams confusing.
But as women get older, the benign bumps begin to disappear and the worry about breast cancer is a valid one. Women in their 40s should begin to consider mammograms and by age 50, an annual mammogram might save your life.
Has a self-exam ever proven to be a lifesaver for you or someone you know? Or are you ready to scratch it off your to-do list? [MSNBC]