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Breast Self Examination: No More?

September 27th, 2007     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

As of yesterday, the Canadian Cancer Society is no longer recommending routine self breast examinations as a reliable way to detect breast cancer. Heather Logan, director of Cancer Control Policy and Information for the Canadian Cancer Society stated that mammography and clinical breast examinations done by a doctor are now recommended instead of monthly self exams:

“There is no evidence that doing a rigorous, systematic BSE will lower breast cancer death rates. The general transition is toward general breast health awareness where you are aware of normal breast tissue, the feel and look, and you can detect changes and report them to your doctor,” Logan said.

Taking one look at the comments section of the news posting on this story will give you an idea of how mixed the reaction has been to this development. Many women are shocked that after years of being encouraged to do monthly BSEs the new message is “never mind.” The issue is complex. This from the Vancouver Sun:

Logan said evidence now shows that technique may have resulted in more harm than good, in that many women reported feeling guilty or stressed by not sticking to the exact schedule, or missing monthly exams.

The technique also may have given women a false sense of security that kept them from having mammograms or a clinical exam by a professional health care worker.

“That’s definitely not the message we need to be sending women,” Logan said.

Many women are coming forward to state that they discovered their own breast cancer by doing a BSE and that they believe their cancer would not have been detected soon enough without the monthy self-exam.

I’m curious to know what readers think about the sudden message shift and if you think that this is a positive step in women’s health or that it could instead put more women at risk?

Tags: body politics, news flash

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