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Breast Self-Exam Gets the Boot

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]

Posted: 7/16/08

My sister and mother both had breast cancer. Mamograms did not detect. Theirs was visible by site but doctors would not test further until they insisted...after 10 years my sister finally had biopsy which proved to show cancer. more than 10 years later, after a couple of years of yearly mammography showing nothing wrong, my mother too had a visible sore on one breast. After insisting to have a biopsy...same as sister, it proved to be cancer.
I was sure that "if" I got breast cancer, I would have the same experience...and was sure that Mammograms were a waste of time for me. Self exams and visual checks proved nothing was wrong. But my GYN insisted I get a Mammogram...so I did just to get him to stop bugging me...
The Mammogram spotted abnormalities...early stages, lucky not to spread, lucky not to need chemo or radiation...not so lucky to have mastectomy...but lucky to be cancer free today...
Breast self exams are free and always available-no appointment necessary...so do it! (so what if only one person out of a bunch is helped...it is still one person! and it that person is you...I bet it would be well worth it!) But...
To anyone out there who thinks it is a waste of time to get a mammogram ...do it anyway...you never know, it could save your life!

  • By Anonymous
  • on 8/20/08 6:20 PM EST