Breast self-exam (BSE), or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully. Not every cancer can be found this way, but it is a critical step you can and should take for yourself.
Over the years, there has been some debate over just how valuable BSE is in detecting breast cancer early and increasing the likelihood of survival. For example, in summer 2008, one study of nearly 400,000 women in Russia and China reported that breast self-examination does not reduce breast cancer mortality and may even cause harm by prompting unnecessary biopsies (removal and examination of suspicious tissue). Because of the ongoing uncertainty raised by this and other studies, the American Cancer Society has chosen to advise women that BSE is an “optional” screening tool.
Breastcancer.org still believes that BSE is a useful and essential screening strategy, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor and mammography. About 20% of the time, breast cancers are found by physical examination rather than by mammography. We recommend that all women routinely perform breast self-exams as part of their overall breast cancer screening strategy.
Tips for performing breast self-exam
Few women really want to do a breast self-exam, or BSE, and for many the experience is frustrating — you may feel things but not know what they mean. However, the more you examine your breasts, the more you will learn about them and the easier it will become for you to tell if something unusual has occurred. Breastcancer.org believes that BSE is an essential part of taking care of yourself and lowering your risk of breast cancer.
Some tips for BSE:
- Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarize yo…
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