The controversy over self exams has surfaced once again, as a new study suggests they provide no significant benefit. We asked a local survivor and a physician for a perspective.
Jackie Brown is both a breast cancer survivor, and the director of Komen For The Cure of Southern Nevada -- a partner in our Buddy Check-8 program. She says the ongoing arguments about breast self-exams offer a frustrating challenge that comes with a silver lining.
"We're out there talking about the importance of early detection and know your body and do your breast self exams and get your clinical breast exams. And it gets frustrating that a study will come out and get everyone confused. But the flip side is, it gets women to talk about it. We get the phone calls. We get to have the dialogue with these women, and they get to understand how important it really is to know your body and do your breast self exams," said Brown.
Brown believes that although self exams lack scientific evidence proving their value, they still have a place in women's health.
Las Vegas oncologist, Heather Allen agrees. At the same time, she understands concerns that finding a lump could lead to an unnecessary biopsy. And a self exam may not find cancer at an early stage. There are still, however, unanswered questions.
"None of these studies that they looked at when they were saying do it or don't do it, ever really looked at women who were considered to be high risk. Maybe in that group of women it does make a difference," said Dr. Allen.
Dr. Allen maintains it will always be to a woman's advantage and empowerment to be aware of changes in her own body. "So that if they ever do feel something different, they will say -- wait a minute, I know that wasn't there. So I think people are not saying whole heartedly saying, don't even bother checking your breast, absolutely not."
Allen points out that while there's no question that mammograms are useful in picking up tumors, they too are imperfect. And that women should combine the various forms of detection.
Allen says while there's no question that mammograms are useful, they too are imperfect. And that women should combine the various forms of detection.
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