Friday, October 17, 2008

What You Need to Know About Breast Self-Exams

You know the drill: The breast self-exam (BSE) illustrations on those pamphlets usually show a woman with one arm up over her head, pushing the fingers of her other hand across her breast—in search of a lump or some other sort of change. Your ob-gyn may have talked to you about doing this every month at home, ideally at a time when your breasts don't feel tender or swollen. BSE controversyThe truth is, even doing regular BSEs (without regular mammograms) may not protect you. A large study conducted in China by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle made headlines in 2002 by suggesting that women who were taught to do regular BSEs didn't fare any better—or live any longer—than women who were not taught to do them. On average, they didn't find cancer any earlier. Still, many medical experts believe women should familiarize themselves with how their breasts feel.

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