The Pros and Cons of Breast Self-Examinations

Are there cons to doing self-examinations on your breasts?

breast self exams

Most women are taught upon reaching adulthood about the importance of self-examinations for their breasts, or BSEs. Since early detection is a vital part of beating cancer, you can really never be too cautious, and BSEs have always been considered part of that process since nobody knows your body better than you. That being said, breast self exams are no longer considered part of official screening recommendations of the American Cancer Society, and haven’t been listed since 2009. So here are the pros and cons of BSEs.

Pro– mammograms are painful, so self-examinations often give women peace of mind.

Con– By the time cancer can be detected by a BSE, it is often larger and potentially more serious than a cancer detected by a mammogram would be.

Pro– 20 percent of breast cancers are found by physical examination, especially in women under the age of 40.

Con– Many women may not be doing self-examinations properly, thereby defeating the purpose.

READ MORE: Can Alcohol Increase Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Pro– Doing a regular, properly administered BSE could end up saving your life.

Con– Doing regular BSEs might prevent you from actually going in for mammograms that could reveal cancer symptoms you may miss.

Though there is evidence that BSEs may not always be necessary, it really comes down to a matter of peace of mind versus inconvenience. Every woman is different, and every woman needs to make a decision for herself on the matter. In my mind, BSEs don’t hurt, and it’s better to be safe than sorry, as long as you are doing it properly. Here are the five steps, for your reading convenience.

Keep in mind that you should still get regular mammograms based both on the advice of your doctor, and your age and family cancer history.

At the end of the day, nobody wants to get cancer. If BSEs help you sleep better at night and have the potential of saving your life, it’s a small price to pay.

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