Your Best Breast Cancer Screening Today
Here are three tests every woman should have.
New Policy on Breast Self Exams continued...
The American Cancer Society guidelines on breast self exams
only advise women to be aware of their breasts, enough to notice any physical
changes. Women can achieve this awareness by occasionally looking at breasts
while taking a shower, getting dressed, or looking in the mirror.
Still, a monthly self exam is a great way of becoming familiar
with the texture of your own breasts, says Meissner. "There may be
insufficient evidence to recommend performing a self breast exam, but it
doesn't mean that women shouldn't do it."
Burstein encourages self-examination on a regular basis,
preferably after a menstrual cycle, when there are fewer changes in the
composition of the breast. Using the flat side of several fingers, he suggests
moving your fingers around the breast in a circular motion. It's a good idea,
he adds, to examine how the breast feels in a horizontal position (while lying
down), and in a vertical one (while standing in the shower).
The National Cancer Institute states that women performing
breast self exams should watch out for the following symptoms of breast
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- Nipple discharge or tenderness, or the nipple pulled back (inverted) into
- Ridges or pitting of the breast (the skin looks like the skin of an
- A change in the way the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple looks or
feels (for example, warm, swollen, red or scaly)
Women who notice these symptoms are urged to see their doctor
for a clinical breast exam.
The Value of a Doctor's Touch
Leading health groups used to recommend that women visit a
doctor's office annually for a clinical breast test, as part of their routine
physical exam. Now medical associations do not push for the test, but do see it
as a nice complement to mammography.
What happened? As in the breast self exam, authorities
determined that there was insufficient scientific evidence to make a strong
recommendation for or against the clinical breast exam.