“About 1 in 8 U.S. women… will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime,” according to breastcancer.org in 2021.
That is a staggering statistic to hear for women. Most of us know someone, if not us personally, who has battled breast cancer at some point. Though scary, the good news is that research around breast cancer prevention, screening, and detection has largely advanced throughout the last decade. With the current technology and practices, breast cancer is often detected and treated at an early stage.
Mammography is the most common method for breast cancer screening. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that is able to detect breast cancer at a very early stage. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women aged 50 to 74 have screening mammography once every other year. Although there is overall consensus about mammography screening, the same cannot be said for self-breast exams.
Self-breast exams involve looking at breasts in the mirror for size, shape, color, and texture with arms down and up, and using the pads of your first two fingers to feel the entire breast using small circular motions (Breast self-exam, 2021). There are many conflicting opinions and recommendations regarding self-breast exams.
According to both the USPSTF and the CDC, there is no data supporting the idea that self-breast exams decrease the risk of mortality from breast cancer. That being said, both organizations also state that it is helpful to be familiar with your breasts so that you can recognize any changes and report them to your physician.
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