Breast Self Examination or BSE
Indeed, reducing mortality rates from breast cancer is the overriding objective of all screening programs. Of course, there is no physical harm in breast self examination.
Also, yes, it is possible that women may detect some breast cancers that routine screening mammography may miss.
However, in many cases, self-examination leads to a great increase in psychological stress on the individual and places unnecessary strain on medical resources.
About 8 out of every 10 lesions discovered by any individual turn out to be benign.
Furthermore, there is no hard evidence really on which to conclude that examining your breasts yourself results in a breast cancer mortality rate reduction.
Furthermore, women in there 40’s should be undertaking a proper medical mammogram screening every year to 18 months anyway.
The mammograms should detect any lesions and inform as to any further diagnostic followups, and treatments if necessary.
In fact, women detect most cancers themselves by discovering a lump.
However, the survival rate would be higher with regular, proper screening.
This is because, by the time that breast cancer is big enough to be felt as a lump, it probably is at a more advanced stage.
So, mammography can detect VERY early, treatable breast cancers before any clinical symptoms, such as a lump, are present.
What is a breast Self Exam?
Basically, to perform a breast
Next, place your hands resting on the hips and then, repeat with your arms raised above the head.
Secondly, feel the breasts with your fingers, pressing lightly at first to find surface abnormalities, and then pressing more heavily to check for lumps within the deeper tissue.
In addition, you should check the ‘axillary tail’ of each breast that leads toward the armpits. Next, you should again feel the breasts whilst lying down. The nipples should also be gently squeezed to check for any discharge.
It is of interest to note that this technique is generally not something that physicians instruct their patients to do.
However, ‘clinicians‘ tend to teach how to check your breasts yourself.
So, statistics tend to show both positive and negative results from breast self examination. But one thing is clear and that is that breast self examination is certainly no substitute for regular breast cancer screening.
Indeed, breast cancer screening should begin at an appropriate age, about 40, or earlier if a woman is in a known higher risk group.
Visit this page for more information on the presenting complaints when women first inquire about possible breast cancer.
- Breast Cancer Screening Programs
- Mammogram Images and Ultrasound
- Mammogram shows Mass: What Next?
- Found a Breast Lump: What does it Mean?
- Full Index of ALL our Articles on Breast Cancer Screening
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- Baxter N. (2001) Preventive health care, 2001 update: Should women be routinely taught breast self-examination to screen for breast cancer. CJMA, June 26, 2001;164 (13). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC81191/
- Brain K, Norman P, Gray J, Mansel R. (1999) Anxiety and adherence to breast self-examination in women with a family history of breast cancer. Psychosom Med. 1999;61(2):181–187. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10204971
- Kosters JP, Gotzsche PC. (2003) Regular self-examination or clinical examination for early detection of breast cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12804462
- National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Breast self-exam (BSE). http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
- Nekhlyudov L, Fletcher SW. (2001) Is it time to stop teaching breast self-examination? CJMA, June 26, 2001; 164 (13). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC81193/
- Thomas DB, Gao DL, Ray RM. (et al). (2002) Randomized trial of breast self-examination in Shanghai: final results. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002;94(19):1445–1457. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12359854