There was recently an article featured in Refinery29, a digital media outlet that focusses on women’s issues, that raised the questions as to whether you should do your own breast exam. As the Refinery29 piece points out, medical professionals have been recommending that patients perform their own breast examinations for decades. However, now it appears that many in the medical field as well as several cancer organizations are reversing course and no longer recommending that people perform breast self-exams.
Should Patients Avoid Doing Their Own Breast Exams?
Per the report in Refinery29, instead of focusing on directing people to give themselves a breast exam, medical professionals and cancer organizations are moving towards men and women practicing breast awareness.
What Is Breast Awareness?
Breast awareness is the practice of knowing what your breasts normally look like and how they usually feel. That way you will be able to notice any sort of change in how your breasts look or feel, and be alerted to have a doctor examine you sooner rather than later.
Why the Shift from Breast Exams to Breast Awareness?
The change from recommending breast exams to practicing breast awareness is based in part on the results of a study conducted in China. The study followed more than 260,000 women for around 12 years. About half of the women were given detailed instructions about how to give themselves breast exams and told to give themselves regular breast self-exams. The rest of the women were not given instructions about breast exams or told to give themselves breast self-exams. At the end of the 12 years, there was no mortality differences between the two groups, meaning doing your own breast exam does not reduce your chances of dying of cancer.
What Happens If a Doctor Does Not Conduct a Thorough Exam?
Be sure to come back for our next blog post on Monday where we will discuss what your doctor should be looking for during a breast exam.