Self Breast Exams

A new study of women who do self breast exams has some surprising findings. It suggests monthly exams have no effect on how long a woman with cancer will live. The study also claims that in some cases, the exams can lead some women to go through unnecessary procedures. For years doctors and cancer support groups alike have urged women to do a self breast exam every month, but now that recommendation is changing.

Chris Pearson, Greater Lansing Susan G. Komen: “I think Komen is coming in with the times being responsible so women aren't , so they think if they don't feel something there might not be something there.”

Chris Pearson is the Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Susan G. Komen Foundation. She says research and studies done in recent years has prompted the organization to re-vamp it's recommendations for women, even making changes to the famous little shower card that women are given at the doctors, and are no longer pushing women to do the self checks every month.

Chris Pearson, Greater Lansing Susan G. Komen: “We don't want people to fall back and say I do my self exams so if I miss doctors appointments this year I'm ok.”

But Doctor Lewis Jones, Director of Breast Imaging at Ingham Regional Medical Center, cautions that women shouldn't abandoned self exams all together.

Dr. Lewis Jones, Director of Breast Imaging at Ingham Regional Medical Center: “If you find something, it will probably be nothing, but then again, you can discover cancer.”

And he says if medical professionals are doing their jobs, the self exams shouldn't lead to procedures like biopsies that aren't really needed, as the study, which was done overseas suggests.

Dr. Lewis Jones, Director of Breast Imaging at Ingham Regional Medical Center: “If you are in the U.S. and go to a good center you will be able to sort stuff out, so you won't be doing unnecessary biopsies.”

So both Lewis and Pearson say, bottom line, if you feel comfortable doing the self exams, then do them. Just make sure you're just using them as an additional tool to regular mammograms and scans.

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