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Self Breast Exams — No Longer Needed?

If you often forget to perform your monthly self breast exams, you can rest easier and maybe even take the item off your to do list. An analysis by Cochrane Collaboration of two large studies on self breast exams (SBE) found that monthly self exams did not reduce breast cancer deaths. Even worse, these self exams lead to increased numbers of biopsies of benign lumps.

Like many women, this news perplexes me. But then again many women are perplexed by SBE to begin with since many lumps and bumps are perfectly normal. Many women are not quite sure how to perform a self exam and what exactly they are feeling for. This might be the reason why SBE aren't helping save lives. While I have friends who have survived breast cancer and these women found the tumors during their monthly breast exams, I still routinely forget to do mine. Due to the experience of my friends, I will continue to periodically do my SBE. A growing number of public health officials believe that unless a woman is highly motivated to do the self exams, due to a genetic risk for breast cancer, that the SBE are not necessary, especially for women in their 20s and 30s.

What do you think of this news? Are you relieved or confused? Tell me in the comment section below.


Join The Conversation
dukegirl dukegirl 9 years
I plan to continue doing monthly SBEs.
sldc sldc 9 years
Our bodies have amazing immune system capabilities, so I wonder if sometimes intervention does as much harm as good? How would that even be quantified or confirmed? Without knowing, we will just continue to assume.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
My aunt has fibrous breasts and when doing a SBE, she found lumps and went in to get them checked. They were completely benign and it scared her. I know that my breasts are lump free, but I'll still do SBEs to monitor them for changes as I get older.
JanetG0307 JanetG0307 9 years
I'm confused by this news. I do monthly SBE and actually found a lump 18 months ago that had to be removed because it was precancerous. I was 21 years old! My doctor told me to continue self breast exams, because they get you familiar with your own breasts, so if you do find something abnormal, you know to get it checked out. She told me that if i find a lump that wasn't there before, then it's probably a node or a lump of fat. otherwise, if it's a lump that gets bigger, you should get it checked out. if you don't regularly check your breasts, how can you know? i will ALWAYS continue to do SBE, because it already helped me once.
JLew1982 JLew1982 9 years
I am relieved. They always feel lumpy to me. It's hard to know what I'm supposed to be looking for.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
u never know. u might be the first in your family to get cancer in your 20s. i also forget to do them regulary, but will not stop. of course i try to be resonable. if a feel a lump i'll go to a doctor for professional check.
Da-Ly Da-Ly 9 years
I keep getting confused when doing SBE's. I find lumps, but then get it checked out at the doc who just says it's a pocket of fat tissue or just a normal lump. If anything, it mostly gets me panicked needlessly.
mks0880 mks0880 9 years
I'm not sure what's so confusing about this news. It seems to me that women are becoming anxious by the normal bumpy tissue they feel, and this is leading to a higher rate of extremely scary tests. This isn't making them healthier, it's just putting them through stress. Telling women that these exams aren't effective makes perfect sense to me.
Amelie074 Amelie074 9 years
I always kind of felt that the SBEs were more important than even the mammograms. I personally know three women who had a mammogram that said everything was fine then found a lump in their breast within a few weeks after that turned out to be cancer. Kind of scary but they found it early enough so they're fine. I think I'll keep doing mine every month.
flyinggrip flyinggrip 9 years
I work with breast cancer patient/survivors and most of them say that they found the lump themselves! Sure, not all lumps are cancerous, but I would rather have an extra biposy than advanced breast cancer.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
I'm relieved. I forget to do mine all the time, and then when I do I can't figure out what's supposed to be there and what's not, even though I've had it explained to me any number of times.
millarci millarci 9 years
I'm confused. But then again I never knew if I was doing these exams right...
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