Some Doctors Backing Away from Self Breast Exams

It's something many women have done over the years, and say it has helped save their lives.
But now an Amarillo doctor says self breast exams are sparking controversy.

In the past, doctors have recommended routine self breast exams in the detection of breast cancer.

Now, doctors and even national groups are backing away from that trend.

Dr. Rakhshanda Rahman from TTUHSC says," breast self exams routinely done once a month never showed that women who do that are less likely to die of breast cancer than women who don't, and that's the reason they don't recommend it."

Dr. Rahman says in some case women found lumps, and ended up getting unnecessary medical procedures.

She says feeling a lump doesn't always mean you have breast cancer.

"It's ok to mark the calendar and give it about 6 weeks and reexamine yourself.  If you're still feeling that something, i think it's a good reason to go see the doctor.  Because lots of lumps and bumps will actually disappear and you're findings will change, which case you don't have to make the appointment," she says.

Dr. Rahman tells us she is not steering women away from self exams, rather trying to encourage them to be more aware

She says pay attention to the way your nipples look, how your breasts hang, and notice skin indentations.

If have a family history of cancer, Rahman says you need to be more dilligent.

"Generally the recommendation for a screening mammogram for example is ten years earlier than the youngest member of your family.  So, if somebody's mom had breast cancer at 40, they should probably start examining themselves around 30."

She says the best time to do a self exam is right before your yearly health check up.

If you notice a consistent lump or abnormality in your breast, it's important to see your physician as soon as possible.

Some breast cancer can take years to spread, while in others, just a few months.

Breast cancer can happen in men also, but Dr. Rahman says it's rare.

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