Breast Self-Exams: Taking Matters into Women’s Hands

In conjunction with International Brest Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Ursulas Scholz, director of the Breast Center, and her colleagues at Asklepios Clinics Hamburg are reminding all women to conduct breast self-examinations each month, and when changes are detected, to go straight to a health provider, preferably a gynecologist. In the fight against breast cancer, as with all forms, early detection is critical to improving the chances of full recovery. Dr. Scholz suggests, “Inform yourself about to properly conduct a self-exam, check your breasts [and underarms] regularly. If you discover any noticeable changes, consult your gynecologist immediately!”

Largely due to the introduction of at-home, self-examinations, doctors report that around 80 percent of noticeable changes in breast tissue are discovered by women themselves. Moreover, the sooner breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of recovery and survival. Finding the right balance between activism and causing alarm is delicate. Not every abnormality means cancer --even benign changes such as fibroadenomas, lipomas (connective tissue and glandular and adipose tissue) or even cysts can cause breast tissue to harden. Only further examinations by trained medical professionals can determine if these changes are harmful.

Dr. Scholz realizes that "many women are afraid to get bad news after completing such an investigation.” And although she understands these fears, she would like women to think differently keeping in mind --breast cancer is curable. And the success rate of cancer detection and survival is largely due to patients and doctors working together. Generally, for women from the age of 30, a gynecologist will include a breast and underarm examination as part of a routine, annual check-up. And for older women (between the ages of 50 and 69), a mammogram is suggested to be conducted every 2 years. Working together with women, doctors are excited about raising the quality of life for a woman affected by breast cancer and finding a cure one day.

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