Are Breast Self-Exams Necessary?

pink bra breast cancer awarenessDo your breasts look normal? Do they feel normal? Would you be able to recognize if something was different about them? You may become more aware of your breasts during the month of October, but it’s important to get to know your breasts on a regular basis so that you know what “normal” is for your body. For years, a breast self-examination (BSE) performed once a month was the recommended way to help you know sooner rather than later when something is off and needs attention, but recent research is causing experts to think otherwise.

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Back in 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Screening for Breast Cancer released a recommendation declaring BSEs an ineffective screening tool and discouraged self exams based on findings that BSEs did not lower the risk of death from breast cancer. Primarily, evidence from two studies performed in China and Russia comparing women who performed BSEs with women who didn’t. Those that did the BSEs experienced similar breast cancer death rates and underwent more biopsies (which can be costly and painful) for benign tumors.