Blog #4-Regular Checkups Allow Early Detection–Breast Self-Examinations

In Blog 3 I discussed the need for regular diagnostic testing, specifically mammograms or something similar, in order to allow early detection of breast cancer. Equally important however is the need for regular breast self-examinations.
I’ve always made sure to tell my wife to make sure she was doing regular self-examinations in order to detect any abnormal lumps. Unfortunately, she was not good at doing this. In talking with her group of female friends, she discovered that NONE of these ladies do breast self exams! Why not? No one was ever taught how to do them properly or what abnormal lumps feel like.

It’s one thing to tell someone how to feel abnormal tissue, but it is another thing for the person to actually be able to do that. Palpating (feeling) the breast for abnormal tissue is an art that can only be learned with practice. While some gynecologists have life-like breast models in their offices that contain abnormal lumps which are very useful as teaching tools for women, many doctors do not have these models to teach their female patients (my wife says she was never taught by her gynecologist how to properly examine her breasts, even though she was encouraged to do so.) Additionally, the normal breast feels lumpy, and many women have excessively lumpy breasts, making detection of small abnormal lumps difficult even for the most experienced doctor to palpate.

All this doesn’t mean that women should forgo breast self-examinations; it does mean that gynecologists must do a better job, using life-like models of the breast, of teaching women exactly what to feel for and what an abnormal lump deals like. Only then will women begin to understand the importance of doing regular breast self-examinations, which can mean the difference between life and death for some women with breast cancer.

Lesson #3: Most women don’t do breast self exams since they don’t know how to do them. Gynecologists must to teach women how to properly examine their breasts in order to allow early detection of breast cancer.

Coming soon-Blog #5-Understanding Your Surgical Decisions